Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Stillness We Need

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

What Moses asked of the people could not have been harder for them to do. At the sight of the approaching Egyptian army a contagion of panic spread among the Hebrews. They were trapped, desert and pursuers on one side, sea on the other. There was nowhere to go. They vented their anger at Moses: “what have you done?” And then they slipped into despair: “Slavery would have been better than a death in the desert.”

In the midst of their anger and despair, Moses gave a word of instruction and promise. “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

You need only to be still. Nothing could be harder. Stillness is counter-intuitive when we’re eaten up with panic. It’s hard to find stillness when you’re trapped, out of options.

When financial options are exhausted; too much debt, not enough income, obligations that can’t be met, risks that didn’t pay off, deals that seemed promising but proved illusory. Stillness is hard to find in a money trap.

When a relationship seems damaged beyond repair; too many betrayals; too many apologies that evaporate with the next fit of rage; the hurts eclipse the hope and the dreamed of future simply isn’t going to happen. Stillness is hard to find in those relationships that are void of love.

When a career is going nowhere; passed over for promotions; bored with the work but chained to the paycheck; going through the motions, wondering if it matters. Stillness is hard to find in an office that feels like a straight jacket and meetings that feel like a thick sock in your throat.

These are the places where God’s work of salvation unfolds. The stillness Moses commanded is how we get out of the way. Stillness allows us to enter into that salvation work. It is not passivity or laziness or inaction. At the Red Sea God eventually commanded his people to stop crying and start moving. “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on” (Ex. 14:15).

The danger is that in our refusal to be still, we’ll miss the salvation. Preoccupied with what we need to do for ourselves, we ignore what God is already doing for us.

Salvation is what God does when we can’t think of anything to do or we’ve done all we can. If you find yourself in that kind of place today, the invitation is simple and plain; simple and plain, but not easy. You need only be still.

Prayer:
Gracious God, grant me enough stillness to see what you might be doing in my life today. When I can’t see a way forward, show me what your saving work looks like, and then make me bold to follow you. Amen.

1 comment:

Hope said...

Mark,

I was a member at First Pres in Houston from about 1993 until 1998 where I enjoyed learning from Vic and Marnie. When I looked them up at Peachtree, I found out about your blog. Your insights have been very encouraging to me. Thanks for sharing. Keep writing and I will keep reading!

Thanks,
Hope (McIlwain) Wood