I don’t know about you but I find it quite tricky to think about something for very long without really wanting to do something practical in the way of solving/resolving/fixing/sorting it.
If I’m planning something or I’m thinking through a disagreement or I’m figuring out a problem, I want to be able to solve it myself and I want to be able to solve it now.
It’s very annoying for me then, that the bible mentions (quite a few times) the need to “be still”. Particularly this one verse in Exodus, just as the Egyptians are about to release absolute carnage on the Jews, who are stuck on the wrong side of the sea as they begin to flee slavery, God let’s them know that
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
If I were one of those Jews I’d be fuming ‘That’s nice and all God, but I’m not really feeling like yoga or meditating or any other kind of still right now!! Let’s get moving!!’.
But, I know there’s a reason why this is in the bible, why in their most ‘heart-in-your-mouth’ moment he instructs his people to do this.
You see, the thing about truth is you don’t really know if you believe it until it needs to become your instinctive thought or reaction and you either remember it or completely doubt it. It’s like that with faith in God sometimes – when life is uneventful you’re not that often lead to question how sturdy that truth is that you live by. You can see then, why it’s in this crisis moment or moment of action (like blockbuster level action!) that God calls them to be still and trust him.
He’s not necessarily calling their feet to be still, or for them to literally remain sitting ducks – but parting a sea is a big thing so maybe he needed them to wait a little while, who knows!
When God gave them this instruction I believe he was speaking to so many generations at once. This verse in the bible was so relevant to the fear-stricken Jews and speaks into our culture today.
Here’s the lesson I’m being taught from this very same piece of the bible:
When I still my busy heart and remember the truth I believe – that God is mighty, that he is victorious, that he has the final say, and that he is for me (not against me), I can remember that the problems, conflicts etc that I come across in life are ultimately not mine to win.
The second blow of this lesson:
When we trust our victory is in God (and all he has done and is doing), we must also surrender our desire/need to have the final word, to seek justification and to win the victory ourself.
I don’t get to have the final word, or make sure my voice is heard, or make sure they understand I’m right, or I’m hurt or I’m important too??
Yep, that sounds about right.
You see, the bible also tells us to love/consider one another as you love/consider yourself (Mark 12:31) – and I think these two key verses tie together quite nicely.
Knowing that the battle against sin, bitterness, envy, stress about the future etc are all beaten by the love, grace, peace and justice of God gives us such a greater ability to love those who drive us crazy or find peace in the unknown (when we feel like we’re approaching a cliff edge and aren’t sure what’s beyond it – shout out to all the third year students!). To be still and know that God is fighting for us and will bring justice on his terms is an awesome concept to begin to get your head around.
I’ve written before about loving beyond our comfort zone, and I guess to some extent this is a practical out-living of that. When we know God made an effort to remind us time and time again in the bible to “be still” and trust he was won the battles ahead, we can freely give up our need to be heard, justified and understood. We can prioritise hearing and understanding others.
We can prioritise loving others and winning them, rather than winning a situation.
Why waste energy in this short life trying to win an argument with someone who God understands so much better than you ever will, and with whom God will have the final word.
When God calls us to love, he calls us to be gracious and this means withholding judgement because showing them Jesus is more important than proving your point.
As a Christian I don’t believe I am made to be a voice of disagreement, or someone who points out the wrong in others for the sake of winning an argument, nor am I someone who should solve all their own problems and have it all figured out.
I am called to love others and trust in God – I believe these two verses that have been mentioned are great signposts as to how we do this.
To be seen as forgiving, finding peace in chaos, loving those who’ve wronged me, and living out a life that reflects the truth that I believe in a faithful and victorious God, is so much better than being heard arguing, criticising or worrying.
If Jesus laid down his life for me, the least I could do is lay down my pride, my point or my argument for the sake of seeing a little sliver of heaven where there could otherwise be bitterness or conflict.