From Liz Groman
On redo or undo
Exodus 8:1-11 (Message): GOD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘ GOD ’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you refuse to release them, I’m warning you, I’ll hit the whole country with frogs. The Nile will swarm with frogs—they’ll come up into your houses, into your bedrooms and into your beds, into your servants’ quarters, among the people, into your ovens and pots and pans. They’ll be all over you, all over everyone—frogs everywhere, on and in everything!’” GOD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Wave your staff over the rivers and canals and ponds. Bring up frogs on the land of Egypt.’” Aaron stretched his staff over the waters of Egypt and a mob of frogs came up and covered the country. But again the magicians did the same thing using their incantations—they also produced frogs in Egypt. Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to GOD to rid us of these frogs. I’ll release the people so that they can make their sacrifices and worship GOD.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “Certainly. Set the time. When do you want the frogs out of here, away from your servants and people and out of your houses? You’ll be rid of frogs except for those in the Nile.” “Make it tomorrow.” Moses said, “Tomorrow it is—so you’ll realize that there is no God like our GOD. The frogs will be gone. You and your houses and your servants and your people, free of frogs. The only frogs left will be the ones in the Nile.””
I have worked in Children’s Ministry for almost 30 years, so the story of the plagues God visited upon the Egyptians are familiar territory. All of the plagues were misery and a direct slap in the face to the gods of Egypt (each one ruled over specific areas of life and nature) - contaminated water, frogs, frogs and more frogs, inescapable swarms of gnats and flies, destruction of livestock and crops through disease, hail and locusts, impenetrable darkness and death of the firstborn son of man and beast. Each plague was designed by God to demonstrate His absolute power and authority over every area of life and nature ruled by each and every Egyptian god. By the end of the ten plagues, there was no Egyptian god (including the divine Pharaoh) left standing. Scripture tells us that Pharaoh’s heart was hard from the beginning; absolute god-like power is not good for humans as it has a tendency to make us arrogant, prideful, selfish, cruel, and leads to devaluing those innocents over whom we exercise that power. We saw this with David and Bathsheba; David allowed his selfish lust to drive him to order the murder of a brave, loyal, innocent and good man to cover over his own sin/shame and to save his reputation. We saw this with the religious leaders who insisted on the death of Jesus, perfectly innocent but definitely perceived as a threat, to preserve their own power and authority. God is not surprised when we are corrupted by power and forget we are not gods; He is heartbroken. Thankfully, He planned ahead for mercy and grace to be available when we come to our senses
I digress. Back to the plagues. The swarms of frogs and Pharaoh’s reaction to them has always confounded and confused me. Scripture describes God’s promise of the initial onslaught as “frogs everywhere, on and in everything!” Pharaoh’s response - “But again the magicians did the same thing using their incantations—they also produced frogs in Egypt.” This raises several questions for me. If the frogs were already everywhere, how could anyone tell that more frogs were produced? Why would Pharaoh request more frogs? Wouldn’t it make more sense to ask the magicians to get rid of the frogs, demonstrating that Egypt’s god had absolute authority over bringing or removing the frogs? Why didn’t Pharaoh ask them to undo rather than redo? Was Pharaoh caught up in the competition so that he couldn’t objectively assess his next move or was his hard heart driving him to have his own way and outdo Moses and his God? AND, when Pharaoh finally does cave in and ask Moses to remove the swarms of frogs, why procrastinate until tomorrow?!
I am in the 4/5 year old class, so we focus on keeping our lessons focused on the point of the Bible story - There is only One True God, there is no god/power/authority that compares to Him, He is a good God and loves us with all His heart, Jesus died for us, we can trust Him to love and care for us always and in all circumstances, be kind and forgiving to others, honor your parents, He wants us to run to Him in the god and bad times, we can be honest and tell Him every secret and shame because He will love us and help us no matter what, and so on. So, I tend to look for the point of each story. Today, the frogs cause me to reflect on redo (make it worse) or undo (make it better). Both choices had costs. Redo made it worse for everyone, but hard-hearted Pharaoh saved face and scored his point because the magicians and Egyptian god came through with more frogs (honestly, I don’t know how they could tell!). Undo would have made more sense - frogs all gone - and seems to me would have also scored a point for Pharaoh and his god by demonstrating power over the frogs, but not Pharaoh’s choice. Why? Then I have to ask myself the same question. Why and when do I choose to redo rather than undo? Why do I hide or try to cover up a failure creating more damage/misery/sin rather than confess and undo, throwing myself on God’s mercy, trusting in His love? The answer always comes down to pride - risk of losing reputation, status, authority, being diminished in the eyes of others, losing a point in this game of life. Redo inflates my pride, warps my perspective, makes me God’s special child, devalues others in my sight. Undo humbles me, restores my perspective, allows me to see with the eyes of Jesus and love with His heart, renews my focus on serving others as I recognize how God values each one. Why do I choose tomorrow rather than today?
So, Lord, I pray that I will choose undo over redo, no frogs over more frogs, today and not tomorrow. Help me to always remember that Jesus became of no reputation for me and is asking me only to do for others what He did for me, to trust the Father to be the same to me as He was to Him, to believe He can accomplish great things with my small obediences. I pray that as my pride dies kicking and screaming, I will rejoice in knowing You are more free to flow in and through me with those pride barriers removed. Make it so, Lord, in Jesus’ name make it so.