This verse was shared with me shortly after the day a doctor declared that our Matt’s mind would never mature. Leaving his office, I drove to the library where I found a book called Living With Your Retarded Child. Unable to check out such a title, I stood in the stacks and read it for hours. Matt was six.
I later shared the verse with a sister in my ward who had just received what could only be called a horrific prognosis on her daughter’s health and future development. She related to me how someone hearing about it had asked, “How do you go on after that?” She had replied . . . “Well, actually, I decided not to. One day last week, I lay down on the living room floor to die. After a couple hours, my teenage boys arrived home and started asking what was for dinner. So I got up and cooked dinner.” No other way but through.
I love movies. I’m a movie buff. So, I’ve probably seen The Ten Commandments 20 times in my life. Except for Anne Baxter’s melodramatic performance (“Moses, Moses”), it still holds up. Even in this day of digital effects, that parting the waters scene is pretty impressive. I once brought my Primary class home to watch just that scene, in an effort to bring the Old Testament alive for nine-year-olds. They watched, mouths agape.
Not to disparage Hollywood’s famed historical accuracy, but apparently Cecil B. DeMille’s version left out a detail that is part of ancient Jewish commentary. I quote from a post-Katrina sermon by New Orleans Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn:
“What happened in that last second that made the Sea divide and allowed our people to cross on dry land? . . . According to the Midrash, it was only after God saw that [the head of the Tribe of Judah] was willing to proceed and to go forward in an act of faith that the Sea divided and a safe way was offered for the people of God . . . only when he made that plunge, according to Rabbis, and God saw it, did the sea divide.”
I like that version. It’s gospel-consistent, don’t you think? That the initiating step in any miracle is faith coupled with action. It’s the disciples leaving their nets. It’s Joseph Smith going to the grove.
Some of us came to our Red Sea place years ago. We’ve been “on the path,” as our family calls it, for a long time. But somewhere, this very day, some couple has just been told what that sound of rushing water up ahead is. They will need brothers and sisters who’ve been where they are and where they’re going. They will need support, both emotional and practical, so they can step into the scary waves … parting them with their faith … and cross into a new country that some who live there would actually call the promised land, for its unexpected joys.
I hope someone will give them this poem, including the profound additional lines I discovered recently along with the authors’ name, Annie Johnson Flint.
The Red Sea Place
Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life
Where in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out.
There is no way back.
There is no other way but through.
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
‘Til the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the winds,
He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul, “Go on.”
And His hand will lead you through – clear through –
Ere the watery walls roll down.
No foe can reach you,
No wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown.
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break;
But over their bed you shall walk dry shod
In the path that your Lord will make.