Too often, when we read about the Exodus, we think that Israel just walked out of Egypt en masse, with the blessing of the Egyptian people (who were tired of the plagues), and that this giant blob of holy-ish people just poured into the space between captivity and Promise and spilled out into Sinai. They were all, we figure, just sort of following Moses, not sure exactly of where they were supposed to go except to know that they were heading Jordan-ish, starting with a impasse at the Red Sea.
And then, we figure that by the time they are about to actually cross that Jordan, they have figured it all out, assembled themselves into military units, and they just sort of storm toward Jericho, pots blazing. (Joke...kind of.)
But there's one little sentence in Exodus that ought to stop us in our mental images, in all the ideas we have about how Israel must have pulled this off. Because Israel didn't just pull this off; they had help.
God says plainly, "I am sending an angel ahead of you to prepare the way."
Such a small sentence. So easy to read right past. So easy, in a day in which we don't really "believe" much in angels and in which we have some really warped ideas about what angels might mean if they do exist, to just ignore this. To read it like a nice sentiment on a Hallmark card, the kind of sappy thing that religious persons say when they don't really know what they're saying or ought to say or whatever. An angel. Yeah, sure. That sounds like God.
But it does sound like God.
Sometimes, I think we don't give God enough credit for all of the preparation that He does in our lives. We think that He calls us and then, we're supposed to just go storming in. We're supposed to just move and blaze the trail as we get there. We believe that maybe He opens doors, but we're supposed to go busting through them like they're still in the way.
That's not God. That's not what He does. More often than not, what God is doing for us is exactly what He was doing for Israel: He's preparing the way. He's sending an angel ahead of us to make ready our path. To open those doors. To weaken those walls. To instill in those people that something holy is upon them.
How would it change your life - your faith, your courage - if you believed that God was still doing this? Not just for His people, but for His person - for you? How would it change the next step you take if you knew that God had already sent an angel to prepare the way?