Those are words we hear a lot. Be still. Wait. Pray for peace.
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14 NIV).
I know I have found comfort in those words many times. But what does that actually mean to be still? And for how long? Is it a physical stillness? Or a mental one?
I went back to read that story in Exodus 14. To set the context...the Israelites had just been freed from slavery in Egypt. They are now heading toward the desert and are stopped at the Red Sea. They are camped out here and at this point, I don't think they knew the next step. And then all of a sudden, they see their worst nightmare.
The Egyptians have come back for them. They thought they were free from bondage but it's once again banging down the back door.
Then we read, "Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:13-14).
Did you catch that? The Lord doesn't say, "Be still." Moses does.
Then Moses, as the leader, turns to God. And The Lord says....
"Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground" (Exodus 14:15-16).
Moses says be still. God says move. Move on.
Why are you standing there? The enemy is coming.
Take action. Raise up your staff. Stretch out your hand. You will go through on dry ground.
Let's get one thing clear...the Red Sea isn't some cute little pond. It's almost 170,000 square miles with an average depth of 1600 feet. At it's deepest point it is almost 10,000 feet (thank you google).
And God is telling them to move. Not around it.
But through it.
Where are we standing still when God is telling us to move on?
One of my favorite songs is "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel. In this song, they sing, "You split the sea so I could walk right through it."
So I could walk.
Not so I could stand in fear, with enslavement right behind me. With past hurt inside my head. I've been freed but I don't know how to move forward in freedom.
I've been freed but I'm on the edge. I have absolutely no peace.
There's walls of water on the right and on the left (thousands of feet of water...). I could, in reality, very much drown.
But I have to walk into the unknown. I have to take action.
So I walk into the water and raise up my hands in faith to find there is dry ground.
I find that I don't need to live my life hesitant.
Yes, there are times of stillness. But stillness doesn't mean do nothing.
Moses, in an act of leadership, told the people to be still. To take a breath. Because to be honest, that would be completely terrifying to see an army coming back for you. In a nonliteral sense, maybe you've been there.
The action came in turning toward God. And He immediately said, move on.
Move on in the way that seems impossible. Move on toward freedom. Move on even when you're scared and not at peace. Move on with me.
You will find there is dry ground.