When It’s Hard To Be Still

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    Standing still is something that most of us don’t like to do. Standing evokes images of the line at the grocery store. Sitting still is reminiscent of being stuck in traffic. We equate stillness with a lack of progress, with not doing anything, with overall unproductiveness—but we are mistaken. True stillness is a lost art in our society. Being truly still is more a state of the soul than of the body.

    There’s this great story in Exodus 14. You’ve probably heard it many times, but when I recently reread it, I saw something I hadn’t seen before. Right after the Israelites are brought out of Egypt, they come to the edge of the Red Sea. Now, with so many people in the desert, it’s quite a scene—tents sprawl out over acres of sand, children shout and play, goats and sheep bleat, cows moo, people are visiting, rejoicing, starting to set up. All of a sudden someone on the outskirts of the camp notices a plume of dust rising in the sky. He pokes his neighbor, who pokes her neighbor, and soon many people are standing watching the dust rise. A slow dread creeps through the camp. Sure enough, it’s what they feared. Pharaoh and his armies are coming toward them at a full gallop, and this can only mean one thing: Pharaoh is bent on destroying them. What will they do?

    Exodus 14:10 tells us that they panicked, and honestly, I can’t blame them. I would panic too! Moses tells them to not be afraid—okay, Moses, easier said than done—and that the Lord will fight for them. He tells them that all they have to do is stand where they are and God will do the rest (Exodus 14:13-14).

    Being still is recognizing that no matter what is going on, God is in control. Being still is a state of the soul. Being still is standing motionless with your back to the Red Sea when the armies of Pharaoh are charging toward you. When I’m threatened, none of my gut reactions include standing still. It’s not a natural response.

    Who would have guessed that the Red Sea would open? After all, nothing like that had ever happened before, but the Israelites followed Moses’ instruction, stood still, and trusted God. What happened was one of the biggest miracles in the Bible, a story we still love telling today. I can’t even begin to imagine what God will do in our lives when we resolve to trust him with our situations, to choose to be still in our souls, acknowledging that he is God and we are not. I can’t imagine what will happen, but one thing’s certain: the stories will be worth telling for years to come.

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