New Hope Notes

Moving Ahead In Uncertain Times
Life Essentials

Pastor Elwin Ahu
March 22, 2009 - W0912

There are lots of uncertainties these days. In fact, the only certainties are uncertainty and the AIG bonuses to their executives! We are uncertain of the economy, our jobs or whether the Hawaii Superferry will return. There are no guarantees in life.


Even my famous gourmet cooking skills are not guaranteed anymore. One night my family wanted pizza and so wanted to go to Papa John’s.  But I told them given the economic situation, I could make an even better pizza for less!  So I got all the ingredients and baked.  It sure did smell super ono. But when I took it out of the oven, both pizzas were swimming in water!  Apparently, the water from the fresh vegetables had seeped out. We tasted it and it was awful! So we ended up at Papa John’s and spending even more money, anyway! Life is full of the unexpected and often falls far short of our expectations and dreams.


So how do we follow God when lives are shattered by the unexpected? How do we remain faithful when our lives seem to be a hanging by a thread? How can we cross over our sea of uncertainties?


Israel was faced with the same questions. So how did they cope? Remember, they had just escaped from 400 years of slavery in Egypt and having Pharaoh constantly changing his mind about freeing them. So when God directed them to turn back and camp back near Egypt, there was serious grumbling. But “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm … The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’” (Ex. 14:13-14 NIV). It is not surprising that Moses would advise this because he was faced with a seemingly impossible situation and probably did not know what to do. But “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on’” (Ex. 14:15 NIV).


In other words, the Lord was saying to trust in Him and move forward with your life! If you remain frozen, your past will catch up with you. Begin to move forward. Our tendency is to wait and see when faced with uncertainty. Remember, “Imua!” As all Kamehameha School grads know, that means, “Go forward!”


So how do we move ahead in uncertain times?





Faith is not moving without fear.  Both Moses and Joshua were afraid but had faith in the Lord so they fulfilled their leadership roles. Faith is trust in God and moving forward despite fear. One problem is that we sometimes confuse God’s role with ours. We wait for God to make the first move but the truth is that God is waiting for us to make the first move. If we do not trust in God enough to move forward, we may forfeit His blessings.


Even Moses had to do so something first.  God said to him, “As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea…and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. As for Me…I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians…and I will be honored through Pharaoh…” (Ex. 14:16-18). God was telling Moses to fulfill Moses’ role and then God would fulfill God’s role. Moses had to raise his staff first before the Red Sea would part.  Joshua’s priests had to step into the Jordan River before it would dry up so that the Israelites could cross. The bleeding woman had to take the first step by reaching out to touch Jesus’ hem before she could be healed.


God may be waiting on us to make the first move. Times are full of the unexpected and uncertain but we cannot forget our roles. I myself have been very busy dealing with the Legislature on top of my regular duties. I was exhausted but at dinner my wife Joy was going on and on telling me what I should do.  Finally in frustration I replied back, “Blah, blah, blah.” And then my little son Jared copied me and said the same thing. Joy was upset. She scolded Jared for being like me and threatened him with severe punishment. Later, Jared prayed that God would make ME a good man so that he would not be a bad boy!


So remember, we cannot forget our roles! Do not allow circumstances to define you. Instead, you should redefine circumstances according to your role. Fulfill your role first and then God will step in. As the Bible says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). We should also know that…







Doing nothing changes our faith into fear. It is written, “As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and…they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord” (Ex. 14:10). Once we stop moving forward, then the fear of our circumstances can set in. In the Book of Matthew, Peter walked on water but began to sink when he looked at the weather and became afraid. It is like first learning to ride a bicycle, if you stop pedaling you will fall. Likewise, as long as you continue walking toward the Lord then you are fine – BUT once you stop then you will fall. I have counseled so many that have failed when they stopped moving toward the Lord by stopping their daily devotions.


Another pitfall of doing nothing is…




Even God’s chosen people, the Israelites had that problem of complaining. They grumbled, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Ex. 14:11) Life will not always be pleasant but our eyes should be fixed on the promises, not the problems. I recently had a disagreement with my wife Joy on how to do the dishes.  I wanted my way and she wanted her way. I was unhappy and complaining to myself and was about to do it my way when the Holy Spirit came over me.  The Holy Spirit asked what was the way that would make me a better servant? This reminded me that I had taken my eyes off the promises. I could only see the problems instead of moving forward in our relationship.


The third pitfall in doing nothing is…




You can tell if you are going backwards when you look too much to the “good ol’ days”. We instead should be looking forward toward making new memories. Even the Israelites backslid. They complained, “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone …’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (Ex. 14:12). When we stop making progress we become blinded by circumstances. We begin walking on a slippery slope that takes us farther away from God.


So what do we do in these uncertain times?





Crossing the Red Sea began with one step. A Chinese philosopher once said that a thousand mile journey begins with one step. A house is built one nail at a time. A painting masterpiece is made one stroke at a time. A great life is lived one day at a time.


God said to the Israelites about their enemies, “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land” (Ex. 23:29-30). Why not wipe out all of Israel’s enemies all at once? The reason is that God will only give you what you can handle at the time.


We may want things immediately. But God may know that giving us all that we want now would not be good for us. We may want our husband to change right away but we may need to change first and that might take time.  We might want to get instant money to fix our finances but God may want us to change our financial habits first and so He may give us just enough that we can handle.


When I first started in my ministry, my wife and I only had a small apartment with a cardboard box as a table and one frying pan.  We were poor. God did not instantly fix our finances. But I would not trade those circumstances for the world. Those days made us closer because we did not have much but we had a lot in each other.


I think sometimes we can miss the little gifts of the simple things in life when we get too much at once. How do we gain lost trust? One day at a time.  How do we fix our finances? One penny at a time.


I recently had a very frustrating day of baseball with my little son Jared. The kids I was coaching and Jared were not listening and did not perform well so I was very unhappy. As another ball went past my outfield and I futilely pleaded with the boys to get the ball, one boy cheerfully asked me, “This is just for fun, yeah?” My attitude changed. I knew then that I should be so thankful that I had that wonderful opportunity to simply stand in the outfield with my son.


In uncertain times we still have to move forward and make the first move, and then God can make His move for us. We need to be faithful to our role in God’s plan as God is faithful to His. There are pitfalls in doing nothing like our faith becoming fear, our celebrations becoming complaints and our progress backsliding. We need to take life one step at a time.





  1. Why do we have to make the first step? Why not wait for God?
  2. How do we know we are faithful to our role?
  3. What are the pitfalls of doing nothing?
  4. What happened when you did nothing?
  5. What happened when you were not faithful to your role?
  6. What did you do to stop backsliding?
  7. How can you use “take one step at a time” to make your life better now?
  8. How does your complaining affect your spouse?