Monday, July 30, 2012

Stand Still

(I would like to dedicate this to my dear and long-time friend and sister in Christ, "Lester."  Even if we're standing still, it's good to have a loved one by our side.  Stand still with me, Lester, and one day He'll show us the way forward.)

When we're thrown curve balls by the world, our first instinct is to move.  We feel driven to do something; to take action, to rush into a defensive posture to protect ourselves.  To do nothing seems foolish and would only compound the problem, so we drive ourselves looking for solutions to the point of emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

Recently, I was thrown such a curve ball.  I felt like the Israelites standing on the shore of the Red Sea with their enemies approaching their rear, ready to drive them into the briny deep and to at last be rid of them.  My first instinct was to rush into the frothy, turbulent waves and attempt to swim to safety.  But I knew it would be a fool's errand.  The breadth of the sea was too wide.  The depth of its dark waters too deep.  The fierceness with which the tide surged too great.  I looked to the left and to the right but only saw an endless shoreline that guaranteed me nothing but more pursuit by the enemy.  So I stood trembling on the shore, hearing the roar of the approaching enemy, and cried out to my God.

"Stand still," He whispered.

But my mind raced with thoughts of why, why,

"Stand still," He said again and I heard His voice.

His presence enveloped me in gentle waves of peace, unburdening me of what the next day would bring.

And I obeyed.

When I finally stood still, I realized that I had been trying to accomplish things on my own using my own power.  Like the Jewish tribes that stood on the banks of the sea, I only heard the voice of my enemy and my own.  Salvation lay beyond the sea, but my thoughts were centered on the rough grains of sand beneath my feet and the thundering approach of indecision, doubt, anxiety, and, yes, unbelief.

The following devotion by Charles H. Spurgeon has carried me the last few weeks.  I awoke this morning with troubling thoughts about how the next year would play out.  Before rising, I tossed and turned and prayed and pleaded.  Uncertainty and worry, which have always been poor traits of mine, clung to my mind with fierceness and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't dispel them

Then I heard in the center of my heart His words once again:

"Stand still."

And this time, He told me to watch how great and how long is His arm.

"Stand still with Me.  Watch with Me.  Wait with Me.  I 'will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.' "

Yes, oh yes, LORD!  I will!

"And Moses said to the people, 'Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today.' " ~ Exodus 14:13a
"These words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties.  He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do?

"The Master's word to him is, 'Stand still.'  It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions:

"Despair whispers, 'Lie down and die; give it all up.'  But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

"Cowardice says, 'Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you cannot play the Christian's part, it is too difficult.  Relinquish your principles.'

"But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God.  His divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course.

"What if, for a while, thou art called to stand still, yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time?  Precipitancy cries, 'Do something!  Stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness.'  We must be doing something at once - we must do it so we think, instead of looking to the LORD, who will not only do something but will do everything.

"Presumption boasts, 'If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle.'  But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, 'STAND STILL,' and immovable as a rock it stands.

" 'STAND STILL;' - keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel...


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