Up Against It

“Bloom!” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

It’s the stuff that nightmares and horror movies depend upon: trapped with no way out.

My vivid imagination replays images of Indiana Jones fleeing huge boulders,   viper pits, or passing through the gauntlet.

Perhaps, your nightmares take a more classical turn, and like my son, you feared the Greek labyrinth and its gruesome Minotaur.

Whatever the case, the fear of “no way out” haunts humanity.

I certainly can testify that. As a child, I experienced many “dead-end” nightmares.

However, I also watched one too many Star Trek episodes.

Thus,  although my nightmares invariably involved my being ambushed by some horror, I frequently awakened to my own cries: “Beam me up, Scotty.”

I wish adult crises were so easily evaded.  After all, at some point, all of us stare into the fierce and glittering eyes of the “unbearable.” Our nemesis pins us against the wall.

No place to hide.

Cornered in the workplace?  You may confront injustice within a corrupt system that doesn’t value mercy or compassion.

Perhaps, weakened by disease, you lose your independence.  You become trapped by a physical condition over which you have no control.

Nightmares may overtake you at home.  Snarling and snapping, strife and dissension make an ugly pair.

Some find themselves hemmed in by financial crisis…barely hanging on as their economic earthquake rattles security.

You may face horror when you take a stand for your faith.  Persecution nips at your heels, and backs you into a tight space.

The fear of “no way out” haunts humanity.

Unfortunately, in my real world experience,   Scotty has yet to “beam me up.”

Even so, I’ve found comfort in the life stories of a prophet and an apostle.

Both Moses and John  encountered life’s “unbearables” and at one time, each found himself up against a wall…

Of course, Moses must have been elated when Pharaoh finally gave the “go-ahead” for the Jewish people’s release and he immediately got God’s people outta Egypt.

But God’s itinerary did not follow the most direct path to Canaan.  You see, as the crow flies, the quickest route would have led Moses and God’s people into military conflict with the Philistines.

Yeah, Abba always calls it right.  A disorganized and bickering bunch of former slaves were thoroughly unprepared to confront the highly skilled, Philistine, war machine.

As the book of Exodus reveals, they were a far cry from an organized and obedient military force.  For this reason, God prepared Wilderness Boot Camp (Exodus 13:18).

And so it was.   Their detour around Philistea brought them to Etham, located not far from the Red Sea.

Meanwhile back at the Egyptian palace,  Pharaoh already regretted losing his primary workforce. Thus, he gathered his army, engaged his chariots, and pursued his former slaves.

When the dust clouds from the chariots began to rise in the distance, the Israelis rightly feared.

Unfortunately, in my real world experience,   Scotty has yet to “beam me up.”

What I find most striking about the account  is that  Moses and the people were following God and yet, they were undeniably penned in…

The Red Sea prevented their flight and Pharaoh’s vast army would overwhelm them.

I sympathize with the people’s genuinely human response: “‘Is is because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 13: 11).

Then, as if to clinch the argument, they whimpered, “…it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness,” (Exodus 13:12b).

As I read Exodus 13 and 14, however, it becomes evident that God allowed this seemingly catastrophic scenario in order to accomplish His ultimate purpose.

God said, “…I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know [italics mine] that I am the LORD,” (Exodus 14:4b).

Sometimes Abba allows us to face the “unbearable.”

Without question, Abba knew that Pharaoh’s Egypt would back Israel into a corner.  Yet, He allowed it.

The purpose?  God planned an amazing display of His power and grace in the lives of His beloved people.

Moses responded to the people’s complaints and fears, “Do not fear!  Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which he will accomplish for you today…The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent,” (Exodus 14: 13,14).

Against the wall,  the people feared.  Panicked, in fact.

Abba’s response?  I am about to do a mighty work through you.  Do not fear. Stand back; wait quietly for my salvation.

Pharaoh’s chariots thundered.  And Moses obeyed God’s command and stretched out his hand over the Red Sea…

The waters parted.

Where there was no way, God miraculously created a beach boardwalk for His people’s feet alone.

When the Egyptian army tried to follow,  God instructed Moses to once again stretch out his hand over the sea, and the waters crashed in upon the Egyptians.

Yes, sometimes Abba allows us to face the “unbearable.”

Frequently, our backs brush the wall.

Where there was no way, God miraculously created a beach boardwalk for His people’s feet alone.

But you and I can take heart.  Abba has a magnificent plan.  When our backs press against that cold stone,  He brings forth miraculous beauty.  Through our lives, He often demonstrates His power  for “Pharaoh” to see.

On such occasions, Abba parts the Red Sea. And the Egyptians know beyond a shadow of doubt that Yahweh is the Great “I AM.”

Grace blooms.

Often.

But not always.

The apostle John’s life illustrates that.

Reading John’s extraordinary book of last things, Revelation, I recognize that on the Isle of Patmos, John’s back also pressed hard against the wall.  Imprisoned for his faith in Christ,  John entertained no hope for escape.

He was trapped.

The Aegean Sea did not part.  In fact, John died on what was, at that time, a  deserted island.

Certainly, the Egyptians did not come to know the LORD through John’s imprisonment. Nor did any remarkable, physical miracles occur on Patmos.

Yet, while God’s plan for John did not include a splashy rescue, it certainly was  miraculous:  John himself met Abba in a spectacularly, deep way.

You and I can take heart; Abba has a magnificent plan.

As a result,  in the book of Revelation, John painted a powerful portrait of our Sovereign Savior.

Indeed. Sometimes, Abba rescues His child in order to demonstrate His grace and power so that the world might come to know Abba.

But on other occasions, our heavenly Father simply sustains you and me so that we might come to know Him better.

Back against the wall?  Rest assured that Abba has an incredible plan for you, His beloved child.

In fact, in the midst of the “unbearable,” our Sovereign-Shepherd calls forth grace, and in our hearts,  a deeper understanding–or “knowing”–of our great Savior blooms.

“…We went through fire and through water; Yet, Thou didst bring us out into a place of abundance,” ~Psalm 66:10-12.

75 Replies to “Up Against It”

    1. Oh, I’m so glad, Jeff! I never know when I am “preaching to myself” if my words will encourage anyone else. But I’m so grateful if they do. Thank you for this very thoughtful comment! Your words are such a blessing! God bless you beyond all that you can imagine, my friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A beautiful and encouraging message. I need to learn, when my back is against the wall, not to fixate on the problem at hand, but watch for the Lord’s salvation… whatever form He may choose.

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  2. Lynn, the story of the Lord parting the seas never grows old, but I must say your beautiful reminder of God’s plan despite our unseeing eyes really spoke to me, and nearly brought me to tears. I need this reminder. Thank you for praising the Lord and reminds us of His truth. ❤

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    1. Oh, I’m so very glad, dear TR! I have to constantly remind myself of this truth… I’m glad it spoke to you as well! You and your friendship are such an encouragement to me. I’m grateful if I can return that encouragement if even in a small way! Love and hugs to you, my wonderful friend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re right Lynn, Nabeel Qureshi’s wall comes to mind and my wife’s recent brush with a heart attack is another. In Nabeel’s case, we don’t always get to see the end of the story, at least not on this side, not yet. And with my wife’s recovery I see mercy again, like so many times before. God’s will for His children will be done and we can know that whether it appears as though a wall stops us or a way is made open to live for another day, in either case, God’s will is accomplished and it is good, as it is supposed to be, because that is what our Father is. We can’t always understand God’s will but we can always trust it. Thank you as always for your steadfast wisdom. Grace and blessings!

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    1. I’m so glad to hear that your wife is recovering well, Bruce! I was so concerned for you both… health issues are not pleasant and can be overwhelming at times. I’m grateful that God is carrying you both through it so well! And you are so very right in your insights! As always, of course 🙂 Yes, as you say, we can’t always understand, but we can certainly rest in God’s loving sovereignty! What a wonderful heavenly Father He is! God bless you, Bruce! You friendship is such a blessing to me! 🙂

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  4. Very encouraging Lynn

    Lots in your words. I recently went and saw the Paul the apostle movie, and had a nightmare that night and felt very trapped. Its not a nice feeling both in dreams and in reality!

    “Abba’s response? I am about to do a mighty work through you. Do not fear. Stand back; wait quietly for my salvation.” – I am so thankful that these words of Gods are for all time. Up against it. I feel like I have been a bit lately but not in a there’s no hope at all kind of up against it kind of way, just a I can sense a burning out coming along if I don’t do something different. I think I just need a holiday. Yay for holidays!

    Thank you for sharing!

    P.S Are you still a Trekkie?

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    1. Thank you with all my heart, Dave! You know your encouragement means a great deal! And yes! You deserve a holiday! So happy for you. I still like Star Trek, but as far as time to watch or see any recent movies? Not so much. Sigh. God bless you, my super friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That was a beautiful reminder of God’s miraculous intervention when we are on the verge of losing hope! 😊 May God bless you, Lynn.

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  6. When we are up against the wall, God makes Himself real to us. We can better understand who He is and how much He loves us when we are delivered from these situations. You picked two excellent examples of the many you could have. And your storytelling is wonderful as always. Keep up the good stuff!

    Be blessed

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  7. Yes Sis! I like when you said “A disorganized and bickering bunch of former slaves were thoroughly unprepared to confront the highly skilled, Philistine, war machine.” The way of God most times looks foolish to man. And that is exactly what makes Him God.
    To be honest, I prefer the word deliverance to that of sustain. But in my walk with God, I have realised that when Abba likes to take me this route to prepare me for what is to come. He wants me to be seasoned and well groomed. Thanks for this reminder Lynn❤️

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    1. Oh, I think all of us would preferred to be delivered from difficulties rather than to be sustained through them. I know I would. But I’m grateful for both. And you are so right! God has given you such wisdom… He does use these times of great difficult to prepare us. Thank you for sharing your keen insight here, dear Efua! Your friendship is such a blessing! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful words of encouragement and glorious painting. Sometimes I wonder what God has prepared for my remaining years. I keep trying to interfere and always seem to mess things up. Unless I follow rather than trying to lead, God’s plan is interrupted. Pray that I can let go of trying to control things so much.

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    1. Aww, thank you with all my heart, dearest Kathy!! And oh, my wonderful friend, I do not think you could ever mess anything up! God is using you to touch so many hearts through your blog posts and through your drama teaching! You are such an example and inspiration to me and so many! But you can be sure that I will pray for God’s continued blessing and love to be poured out to and through you! ❤ and huge hugs!!

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    1. Thank you so very much, Shara!! Yes, flowers seem to be able to bloom anywhere… what a beautiful thought that is… God can bring beauty even in the most unlikely spaces. Thank you for expressing that principle so clearly in your words here. It really sums things up for me! God bless you greatly! ❤

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  9. Lovely piece, Lynn. There have been a few times in my life where I have felt totally helpless – ‘backed into a corner’, as you describe. Several of my spells in hospital have been like that. But God has been very merciful to me and always brought me out of the darkness into a place of greater clarity and peace.

    God bless you!

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    1. And I truly thank Him for that, Steven! What a blessing it is to know you! Thank you for your thoughtful and honest comment here. Your words are such an encouragement to me and I sure they will be to others as well! God bless you big time, my talented friend!

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  10. There is a particular scripture that is very dear to me. I have used it many times. It never failed to ‘work’. This is it: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1Cor 10:13). What are some of the lessons I had to learn in my Christian life? The Holy Spirit brought me often to ‘tight places’. I too panicked that there is no way out. Ms. Palpitations and Bro. Hyperventilation were my neighbors, who made it worse for me. But when I came back to my senses and prayed for peace and wisdom, the promised faithful ‘way of escape’ was always revealed. It was never high near the ceiling (where I was sure it was). It was always down on the floor… I needed to kneel down to find it… and crawl some more on my belly… a humble exit… humble ‘designer’ exit…prepared exactly for my measure, not to wide and not too tight… Just for me! These episodes of tight uncomfortable spaces helped me to repent from the desire to control my way, to be in charge of my miracle of freedom… It had to be God, from beginning to the end! Like a baby coming out of the womb, I learned how to shout freedom once outside! Like a butterfly out of the cocoon, I learned how beautiful and strong my wings are, only when there was enough space to stretch and soar! Blessed are you when you go in and blessed are you when you go out! God bless you Lynn!

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    1. Thank you, dearest Lia, for sharing your beautiful testimony here! I am absolutely sure it will bless others as much as it has blessed me! Your friendship is such a beautiful gift! I praise God for you! ❤ ❤ and hugs!!

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  11. I read the Exodus account just this morning and I just couldn’t help wondering how many ordinary Egyptians became believers in the LORD that day. Your perspective and gracious writing truly encouraged me today. Thank you, Lynn.

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  12. Oh, Lynn, I needed to read this!
    As I read it, I kept hearing the words of Lauren Daigle’s song, Trust! “When You don’t move the mountain, I need You to move, When You don’t part the water I wish I could walk through, When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You,… I will trust in You…Your ways are always higher…(Now I need to pop in my CD and listen to her songs!)
    Hugs, my friend!

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    1. That is such a beautiful song, Robbye! I think I need to listen to it today as well! Thank you for reminding me of it! And thank you as well for your very kind encouragement! I’m so glad that we are not doing this journey alone! Grateful for you, my wise and godly sister in the Lord! Love and hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome. Lynn! I love her songs!!
        I am glad we have each other for encouragement, too! (I desperately need it some days!!)
        I am very grateful for you too, my sweet friend!
        Love, hugs and blessings~

        Liked by 1 person

  13. When we are in the middle of such a midle in life it is hard to believe and see God working, but no matter, God is faithful to perfect His plan for us. No circumstance, good or bad, is wasted. Great post, Lynn! ❤️

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  14. Love this painting and this encouraging reminder that “in the midst of the “unbearable,” our Sovereign-Shepherd calls forth grace, and in our hearts, a deeper understanding–or “knowing”–of our great Savior blooms.” Thanks so much, Lynn, for letting God use you in such a powerful way!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a wonderful to help us during the rough times! Thank you so much for this, Lynn. Also, this is random, but I’ve never seen Indiana Jones.

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    1. Oh, I wouldn’t worry. It’s just comic-book stuff… But I have a son and so that sort of thing appealed to him as he was growing up; thus, I’m more familiar with the films than most, I suspect. 😉 Ha! On another note, thank you for your thoughtful words! You’re a wonderful friend! Love and huge hugs! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s down to the fact that Harrison Ford never appealed to me. 😄You’re welcome and I hope that this week will be a blessed one for you. Take care and I send you huge HUGS! 💙

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    1. Thank you, dearest, TR! You are such a beautiful person and lady–a blessing to me and so many! I thank God again and again for you. And I am truly honored that you should highlight my post. I’m so glad it spoke to you since God truly spoke to me! God bless you big time, my wonderful friend! ❤ ❤

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  16. Amen! I identify. I especially liked this part:

    “Abba’s response? I am about to do a mighty work through you. Do not fear. Stand back; wait quietly for my salvation.”

    Very encouraging! Thank you so much. Hugs!!

    Like

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