God has been on a “stillness” kick with me recently. Seriously, it seems that every book I open, every verse of Scripture I turn to, every seemingly insignificant quote I scan contains the challenge to “be still.” Hmm… I wonder if God is trying to tell me something?
This theme to stillness, at first, caused me merely to pause and slow things down a bit – even if only in my mind. But the longer I pondered the thoughts of “ceasing to move,” the more I realized that my mind is the very thing that keeps me trapped in movement. For while I am learning, albeit slowly, to honor God by quieting my actions and slowing the rate of speed at which I grasp on to more responsibilities (Or should I refer to them as “ministry opportunities” – Can I get an Amen?), it is much more difficult for me to honor Him with a quiet heart and a mind that is at rest. How does one “calm her heart” when there are so many outside pressures and inward thoughts that are urging me to do something about everything?
As I attempted to wrap my mind around just what it was that God was wanting to “still” in me, my eyes were drawn to a verse from Exodus 14:14 that is translated in two of the following manners:
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (NIV)
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. (NKJV)
Hold your peace.
Could it be that the very way I still my heart is by holding on to peace? Funny, that’s exactly what it means. The concordance definition for the original Hebrew word used in this verse encourages me to be astonished; stop; rest; tarry; wait; quiet self; be still; hold peace. It’s written right there in black and white.
Taken in context, this verse is referring to the occasion where the fleeing Israelite slaves were hemmed in by the wilderness mountains on either side, the Red Sea stretching before them, and their angry enemy rapidly closing in behind them. No way out. No viable means of escape.
Sounds a bit like some of life’s circumstances to me. Hemmed in a bad relationship with no signs of a better one. Trapped by others’ poor decisions in what appears to be a hopeless situation. Entangled in the makings of a horror movie instead of a happily-ever-after fairytale of your dreams. Enslaved to a way of life that devours everything in its wake with the consuming appetite of addiction. (You can insert your own bewildering situation here.) The point is, we have all faced a scenario where hoping for escape seems to be futile.
Until we factor God into the equation.
Until we be still and hold peace.
For while the Israelites seemingly had no out, they were forgetting that the One who went before them also had their flank and their rear. Fortunately, their enemy (in this case, Pharoah and his Egyptian motley crew) was also neglecting to include God. Instead, Pharoah was counting on the fact that he was pursuing former slaves, not valiant warriors. He was hedging his bets on their inexperience and slave mentality leaving them perplexed in the wilderness (see Exodus 14:3). As humans, we remain deftly remiss in not including the One Decisive Factor in every equation. We forget our Father’s bent in loving and delivering His own.
Instead of panicking at the present difficulties surrounding us, we would do well to take a tip from God’s History book and remember. Remember the One who has called you from your state of slavery. Remember the One who has performed wonders on your behalf to bring you this far. Remember the One who leads you by His presence. Remember the One who has told us that, yes, we will have troubles in this world, but He Himself has already overcome them. Remember the One who has promised to give you a peace that surpasses all measurement of understanding in order to KEEP you. Do you really think that He will leave you now?
I’m challenging myself, alongside you, to remember and to place our hands on peace. Tighten your grip and hold on for all that you’re worth. Because the peace of God is worth holding onto with everything you’ve got.
Even when what you have seems frighteningly fragile and weak.
God’s strength is made perfect in the weakest of pleas and the most silent of prayers. And the strength? Thankfully, it rests in His peace and not in our flailing hold. It shows up in His presence made known on our behalf, surrounding us on every side in order to free us in every way.
For those of you who are wondering, the Israelites were rescued by God’s presence turning the tide of victory in their direction, quite literally. He opened the mouth of the Red Sea and caused His people to cross on dry land. And the enemy? Well, it turned out just like God had told them – … for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. (v.13)
As you face that situation that appears to offer no way of escape, I encourage you to turn your eyes upon your Father and reach out and hold your peace. For what is meant for your ruin can be redeemed with the resurrection of hope.
The enemy’s plans can be overruled with mere words from the Restorer of Souls.
It is finished, dear one. The battle was won at the Cross of Christ. The Lord has fought for you. Now it’s your turn to be still and hold your peace.