I remember reading or hearing somewhere that if a person is in an urgent situation where they have to evacuate quickly and they have time to rescue one thing (other than loved ones), they typically go for the thing they value most. I remember seeing this played out once. Jane and I were enjoying a long weekend away and were staying at a hotel one night. At around 2 or 3 A.M. the fire alarm went off. False alarm, though at the time we did not know that. We hurried out along with all the other guests, not sure what was going on. Also staying in the hotel that night was a high school orchestra. I figured it wasn’t a marching band because one of the group members, a young lady, came out carrying a violin case. Another of her group, a guy, teased her about it. “The building could be burning, and you save your violin?” The girl didn’t miss a beat: “My parents spent a lot of money on this and I put in lots of hours on it. So, yes. I saved my violin.”
And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.Exouds 12:34
I thought: “That’s a wise girl.” She appreciated the investment of money her parents put into that instrument and the investment of her time. All of that made that violin something very valuable. So, if she was going to save anything, it was going to be that. Her choice didn’t have to make sense to anyone else. It made sense to her.
When Israel’s exodus from Egypt occurred, the actual departure was sudden. Moses told them that it would be. The final plague was the death of all firstborn, animal and human, and the plague knew no boundaries except one:
“For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you” (Exodus 12:23).
Anyone who did not have lamb’s blood upon the door posts and lintel of their door would suffer the loss of their firstborn. “And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (Exodus 12:30).
When they saw what had happened “the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (v. 33). As Moses had said, Israel’s departure was swift, and he had warned them to be ready to go. So, amongst their belongings, the Israelites took their bread dough and their kneading troughs (Exodus 12:34). Odd choices until you consider their reasoning. Bread was a common staple in all households. Fellowshipping in Bible times centered on the “breaking of bread.” Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Even today, how many times have you had get-togethers with friends and family where some form of bread was not on the menu? (Ever hear of pizza?)
Bread is a necessity. So, of all the belongings the Israelites could take, they took their unleavened bread and their kneading troughs. They were going into the wilderness and they needed to survive. The Egyptians would load the Israelites up with all kinds of other goods on their way out (Exodus 12:35-36)…
But it makes you wonder in all the commotion what the Israelites had to leave behind. Surely, they had to make choices between what they really needed and what they only wanted.
Jane and I are going through an “exodus” of sorts. We are downsizing and moving away. Leading up to that decision we had to make some hard choices. As we are going through all our stuff, we find ourselves having to make choices between what we really need for where we’re going and what we can just get rid of. This is, I think, the third major move we’ve had to make in our lives together, and it amazes me the amount of junk you can accumulate over the years. More than once we have come across an item that made us think: “Oh! So that’s where that was,” and for a fleeting moment you remember why you got that thing and why it was so important, only to realize: “I got along without it for a long time. Finding it now doesn’t really change that I don’t need it.” Still, we would struggle with making the right decision. Sentimentality is a sticky substance. Considering our circumstances and where we were heading would often snap us back to reality and give us the grace to make an objective decision: “Don’t need. Sell it. If it won’t sell, get rid of it.”
Sometimes the Lord brings circumstances into our lives that force us to be objective in our assessments. Haggai had to exhort his people with the words: “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5, 7). What makes the choices hard is that we often have to choose not between good and bad, but between good and best. Sometimes that can mean making hard choices about where God would have you to serve. What you’re doing now isn’t bad, but God has something else for you and you must move on. Israel was leaving slavery to go to the Promised Land. As bad as slavery was, it was something they knew. The Promised Land was also the Land of the Unknown. They had to go, and God saw to it they didn’t have time for second thoughts. There were a lot of things they probably had to leave behind – but what they were going to gain would be better for them even if they couldn’t see that right away.
Jane and I have to move on. I am not looking forward to it. It means a new place, making new friends and me trying to find a new job. I don’t know what the future will hold. I have to trust the One Who holds my future. That means letting go of some things and leaving them behind.
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