A week before Thanksgiving, I begin rehearsing for the family gathering. I practice keeping my smile steady while doing my mental head slap. I carefully rehearse keeping my gaze focused without rolling my eyes. I do deep breathing exercises for relaxation. Having experienced the same family gathering over various holidays for years allows me to know the script by heart — the jokes, the stories, the complaints, the barbs. As the day grows closer, my rehearsals reach comedic level as I occasionally toy with the idea of ditching the usual script in favor of a family game of "Tell Me How You Really Feel" to clear the air. The relaxation exercises prove futile as my blood pressure hovers at temple-throbbing level. Something must be done. It's time to move on.
Many of us approach the holiday season like the movie "Groundhog Day" — it's the same exact Christmas as 1984. The clothes and decorations may have changed, but the emotions and arguments with family are the same. Maybe it's time to move on — not to a different location for the holidays, but a different frame of mind.
In Exodus, go with me to the scene just before the dramatic crossing of the Red Sea. The Egyptian enemies are close on the heels of the Israelites, who take this opportunity to whine to Moses about being drug out into the desert to die when they could have just as easily died in Egypt. Moses gives an inspiring speech concluding with: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14 NIV).
For years, that was my favorite verse since it is a struggle to remain still and let the Lord fight instead of trying to dig out of the messes I make. Not too long ago, however, someone encouraged me to keep reading in Exodus 14. Evidently, the Lord was not quite as inspired by Moses' words as me. The very next verse says, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.'" I love that. Sometimes I just need to move on — the Lord says so Himself.
Need to apologize to someone? Apologize. Move on.
Need to forgive someone? Forgive. Move on.
Are there "issues" and baggage to drop? Let go of the baggage, with professional help if necessary. Just move on.
In a go-nowhere relationship? Either give it all you've got, to repair it, or declare it officially dead. Either way, move on.
Christians wear the name of the One who set us free from bitterness, fear, and unforgiveness, but often we live like we don't wear the very name of Christ, a name defined by selfless love and forgiveness.
There are times to let the Lord fight for you and be still, but there are times when the Lord says (in Sarah's paraphrase), "Quit whining and MOVE ON." This can be a season for change. Apologize. Forgive. Let go. Move on.