Becoming Still {}

Remember in the Bible where God sends the plagues upon Egypt to free his people from bondage and slavery?

Remember how he has them roam in the desert long enough for Pharaoh to change his mind about freeing all of his slaves?

Remember when they got to the sea, and they looked up and saw the Egyptians coming for them?

Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”  Exodus 14:11-14 (NKJV)

There are so many times where, like the children of Israel, I have felt stuck.

Oh, yes.  God delivered me from the yoke of sin. God broke my chains and set me free, and there is a land of milk and honey waiting for me just beyond the horizon.

Behind me, though, the enemy fast approaches.  I hear the thunder of hooves as their chariots pursue me.  If I don’t keep moving forward, I will fall into the hands of my oppressor only to be forced back into bondage and slavery (sin).  But, the road is so long. All I can see ahead is uncertainty and doubt. And I have no means of navigating.

Each time I have felt this way, I act out, exactly like the children of Israel.  I mock.  (Really, God?  There weren’t enough graves in Egypt, so you had to bring me to the middle of the desert to die?)  I start the I-told-you-so-ing.  (Didn’t I tell you just to leave me alone and let me serve the Egyptians? Apparently, Almighty and Omnipotent One, you should have listened to me.)  I compare and covet and question the plan.  (Certainly, it would have been better to stay where I was than to come to this desert and die! I mean yes, my life was bitter with hard bondage, and the slave drivers forced me to serve with rigor, but at least I was alive and not roaming in the desert stuck between my former captors and a stinking sea I have no way to cross!)

But look at the words of Moses:  “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”  

I like the words used in the NIV:

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

I am not a still person.  I move.  Constantly.  I fidget.  I am loud.  I complain.  I whine.

It is a thousand times worse when things don’t go according to my plan.  I can throw a temper tantrum that down right trumps those of my three-year-old.  (A hard thing to admit…)

I (falsely) expect God to make my path easy.  You brought me here, God.  Why am I still suffering?  Why is it so hard?  Why isn’t everything rainbows, and butterflies, and unicorns and orange sherbet?  Why can’t you just get me to where I am supposed to be without all of this turmoil?

Because that isn’t what he promised.

These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

This verse is pretty self-explanatory.  I live in the world.  I am going to have tribulation. Period.

However, it is through tribulation, that I learn to be still so that God can move.

Remember how the story ends?  The children of Israel are still.  God tells Moses to lift his staff, he does, and the sea parts so the people can pass.  When the Egyptians try to follow, the sea returns, and they all die.   A miracle occurred, and  God delivered his people.

Look what is said at the end of the story:

Thus Israel saw that great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.  Exodus 14:31

Sometimes, God has to let me get stuck so he can rescue me.  (I like to think of it as beating me over the head with a colossal stick, and let’s face it – I need it.) Because despite everything he has done for me, I still take him for granted.  I still try to do things myself.  I can’t be still.

I am so thankful that God brings me through the hard times.  I am thankful that He sent His Son to die and be born again, so that I may have salvation and deliverance. I am thankful for the blood that washes me clean.  I am thankful that He sends His Spirit to reside in me, guiding me every step of the way.  I am thankful for grace and mercy and the fact that my Father waits patiently on me to be still so that he can perform great works.  I pray that he continues to refine me so that I will learn to be at peace.