A Rock and A Hard Place

Parents never quite comprehend children’s anxiety over a family vacation.   We glibly assume all is excitement and anticipation.   It never enters our minds that some insignificant moment of our adventure is keeping our children awake at night.   For one of my daughters, a long awaited trip to Chincoteague Island was eclipsed by fear of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  All reverie over Misty of Chincoteague shrouded by the terror of five minutes driving under the sea.

For me, it was “Fat Man Squeeze.”   Chattanooga was only a couple of hours from our home.   And every barn roof in North Georgia beckoned, “See Rock City.”   My dad thought it would be a great adventure.   And so it was – in retrospect.   But in reading about Rock City, I had learned of a spot in the tour of its rock gardens branded “Fat Man Squeeze.”   Or as I feared, “Fat Boy Squeeze.”

I was ‘husky’ in my childhood – and very self-conscious of it.   And as if the thought of being permanently wedged in a tight rocky passage was not terror-inducing enough, the thought of being publicly branded as the “Fat Boy” who got lodged in “Fat Man Squeeze” was just too much.   So, to my father’s dismay, I offered excuse after excuse as to why a trip to Rock City was not a good idea.  Never daring to reveal my real fear of being literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.  

None of us wants to be in that place.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place.   Either literally or figuratively.  The expression and experience are common ones.  To be ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ means, to face two equally unpleasant, dangerous, or risky alternatives, where the avoidance of one ensures encountering the harm of the other.  

We consciously avoid being in situations with no safe exit strategy.  Yet as Christians we recognize in both the Bible and in our own lives, that the Lord often places us between a rock and a hard place.   He does so intentionally, so we will learn that He can make a way when there seems to be no way.

As the people of Israel leave Egypt, they go out with head and hand high.   Their God has delivered them from the iron grip of Pharaoh and centuries of slavery and oppression.   They have plundered the Egyptians and depart victoriously, while a defiant Egypt is in ruins.   Yet as their journey begins, we see two things that seem troubling.  

First God takes the people off the interstate, off the fast track to their new home.   They need to learn about themselves what He already knows.   They must grow in their faith before they face certain enemies and let fear drive them back to slavery.  And second, God leads them directly into what appears to be a dangerous and indefensible encampment.   After making good progress on the desert highway, the Lord tells them to turn around and camp on the shore of the Red Sea.   At the same time, he tells them that Pharaoh will harden his heart one more time and come for them – to either capture or kill them.  

God places the people between a rock and a hard place.   They are not victims of poor planning, poor leadership, or rebellion.  But of the purposeful plan of God.   They are about to learn that the Lord makes paths where no paths appear to exist.  And that the Lord will fight their battles for them.   As Pharaoh’s chariots appear on the horizon, they panic, grumble, and despair.  But Moses instructs them.

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 

Exodus 14:13-14

This is good counsel for us.   When we are stuck between a rock and a hard place – at work, in relationships, with decisions, and in our spiritual lives, have we learned to “fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for [us]?”   Will we panic, accuse others, or fall into a pit of black despair as the Israelites did before the Red Sea?  Or will we learn that we must only be silent and let the Lord fight for us?  

What is your response when you are between the rock and the hard place?  Join us as we examine Exodus 14:1-14 and consider how God places us in hard places to show us that he will make a way when there seems to be no way.  And that He, himself, is that way.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube