“What are we doing here?” The single thought screamed through little Kanyiri’s mind. Swallowed up by the crowd pressing in all around her, she couldn’t even hear her own words. She held tightly to her little brother’s hand, but Caleb wasn’t about to let go for any reason. The two had gotten separated from Mama and Papa during the seemingly endless march to the sea.
Her feet ached with blisters and she just wanted to crawl into a corner and sleep, but there was no quiet corner to find. The entire assemblage had followed Moses through the rugged mountain terrain and was now spilling out along the edge of a great river with nowhere else to go. “I’m not sure where we are Caleb, but we’re certainly not in Egypt anymore.”
Caleb’s tears left streaks on his dust-covered face. His body quivered with sobs as he held onto his big sister. He was only seven and his little body was exhausted from the long hike. Kanyiri was only nine years old herself, but for the moment she knew she had to see them through this.
Panic reigned. People hunted amidst the throng yelling names of missing family members while others made valiant efforts to keep terrified goats and camels from stampeding into the crowd. Everywhere loud shouts cut through the roaring din. Kanyiri’s resolve was near a breaking point.
Not knowing what to do, she pushed through the crowd to the river’s edge. “I can hardly see all the way to the other side! How will we ever get across? We certainly can’t swim it, especially with everything we’re carrying and dragging behind us.”
Many others were loudly expressing this very same thought. Some cursed Moses for leading them here. “Did we come all this way from Egypt just to be trapped here? What will happen when Pharoah’s chariots catch up to us?”
Kanyiri gingerly stepped into the river to avoid the jostling elbows of people everywhere. The water was so cold! She could see Moses and Aaron a short way ahead. Angry men were gesturing wildly all around them. Aaron was trying desperately to grasp some measure of control of this impossible situation while Moses just stared blankly out over the river, seemingly oblivious to the tumult around him.
Kanyiri pulled Caleb into the river and started wading toward the hub of heated voices. Caleb trailed numbly along. Suddenly, Moses raised his staff and held it out over the water. A deafening noise immediately began to build upstream diverting people’s attention away from other concerns. The current around Kanyiri’s feet began to churn, startling her to step quickly out of the water.
She studied the strangely swirling water, although “strange” had lost any real relevance in recent days. She had seen the water in the Nile turn to blood. She had experienced the stench and nausea and the piles of dead fish. She had seen the flies and frogs in the Egyptian lands that did not menace the Hebrew lands. She had heard the wails and cries from Egyptian homes as they discovered children dead in their beds.
Kanyiri’s fingers squeezed tightly into Caleb’s shoulder as the water began to ebb backwards, building into huge walls growing higher and higher and higher. The horde stared in stunned disbelief at this impossible abhorrence of nature.
It was Miriam that seized control. Running out onto the dry rocky riverbed, she urged the shocked people to follow. Kanyiri, recovering some of her own impetuousness, pulled Caleb forward. The unnerving aberration spurred them to move quickly. Who knew when the river might suddenly revert to its normal state?
Nearly across, Kanyiri halted for a second to gaze up at the tremendous walls of water. She impulsively bent down and nimbly picked out a small stone that until moments ago had remained covered by water for an unknown number of years, perhaps since the very beginning of time. It had been polished smooth by the powerful force of water. She clutched it tightly to her heart, vowing to hold it all her days as a reminder of this miraculous event that only the one true God of Abraham could bring about.
Tears started down her young cheeks as she recognized the power and love of an awesome God. Hope and joy flooded into her heart.
On the far bank, Miriam was singing! And in the middle of the sea, Kanyiri danced!
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