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when “be still” means “get off your keister”

It is a scene we’ve all read or saw in the movie Prince of Egypt, or The Ten Commandments with Charleston Heston, or that Exodus movie with Batman, or countless other animated versions for kids. Moses and the people of Israel are standing at the edge of the River and Pharaoh and his army are chasing them down. Everyone’s scared and wondering if this was the very best idea when Moses says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (From Exodus 14)

I’m not a literal person, but it doesn’t really seem like the right advice. Of course we know that God is able to wipe out his enemies and we need not fear. We also know that God has a plan and we can, in our hearts, be still and at perfect peace.

But it didn’t mean stand still and do nothing. I find it amusing that the next few verses are the Lord’s reply: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water…'”

First of all, I think God is being facetious, as He can be at times, and I think that He might have said, in another context, “You best get to steppin’.” 

Moving on AND being still. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes it’s hard to know which to do. Sometimes it’s painful to do. But sometimes it is the most necessary thing to do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. You know, you could say that in a way I’m an expert. I’m not saying I always handle it perfectly, but you might be hard pressed to find people with more change in their lives than Rob and me in the past few years. Well, in the past lifetime really. We’ve both been through all the main stressor points, you know the ones they list as the top causes of things like mental breakdowns and such. I count my blessings daily that he and I have found each other through it all and I can say without a doubt that it was clearly God’s design.

That said, we certainly weren’t done with the stressors when we married. Now with 2 little girls and 2 teens, one getting ready for college in the fall and the other about to make (yet another) major life changes, I think that Change should be our middle name.

Good thing we are both great at it. We are. We love it. We thrive on it in fact, and we both tend to be people who get bored much faster than others when things are too quiet. Doesn’t look like we have to worry about that for awhile.

It’s also a good thing that we are ENFPs who are also good at helping others through change. Sometimes people who thrive on excitement forget that not everyone does, and in fact a large percentage of people hate it. I think the key is learning to see the difference between times to stand still and times to BE still. It is always time to BE still.

That’s the trick, isn’t it? Because “be still” doesn’t look the same way all the time. There’s no formula for it. And you can’t necessarily tell if someone else is doing it right. Rob and I have had to talk a lot about what it looks like for us to wait. It has meant different things at different times. It has meant packing up a moving truck. It has meant not packing up a truck at other times. Sometimes it means crying out loud and other times it means lying down and finding rest.

moses-sea-whaleThis is absolutely my favorite image from Prince of Egypt. As historically inaccurate as it may have been, the truth is that to the people of Israel in that moment, they could have seen a guppy and it would have felt like a whale. Their hearts and minds must have been troubled and full of fear. There must have been those who had to use every ounce of strength left in them to move their feet one in front of the other. I have no doubt it was hard. I have no doubt it took tremendous amounts of courage. It took “be still”-ness. The heart is easily deceived and wanders far and wide. But in the confidence of the Lord – His power, His pillars of fire and cloud – a still heart propels us forward. It moves us, at times trembling and unsure, at times with strength and determination.

It’s really only in hindsight that we see our enemies destroyed and our fears assuaged. In the past, we know it to be true – the Lord has won the battle, and we know He always will, but it can be hard to be a soldier on the field. It can be hard to see what may pass as negotiations between captains in closed tents up the hill somewhere. But what we forget is the one and only negotiation that matters – the one that claimed victory for us and paid all the price for our freedom. He paid dearly, will He now just leave us in the dessert? We saw how Pharaoh raged when he lost his firstborn son. How much more will our Father fight for us? So in his name, we go.



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