by Maggie Koops
Let me set the scene - Moses had just led Isreal out of the slavery in Egypt and they were heading towards the Promised Land. With the Angel of the Lord leading the way in the form of a large cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, what could go wrong? As the well-known story goes - the Israelites had to cross the Red Sea. Before they had the chance to cross the sea, God hardened Pharoh's heart and Pharoh took his entire army and went after the Israelites.
When the Israelites saw 600 of Egypt's best chariots, and some not so good chariots, coming at them they were frightened - "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?" (Ex 14:11) Classic Israelites, complaining about their situation.
Moses' answer unquestionably came straight from the Holy Spirit - "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." (Ex 14:13-14)
The pillar of fire moved between the Israelites and the Egyptian army. Moses stretched out his staff over the Red Sea and God sent an East wind to part the Sea. The empowered Israelites crossed on dry land.
Eventually, the Egyptians started to cross the sea. However, halfway through, the Lord confused the whole army and jammed the wheels of the chariots so they were stuck in the middle of the sea. The Egyptians tried to turn around when the realized that the Israelite's God was against them. At God's command, Moses raised his staff once more and the Red Sea flowed again. No one in Pharoh's army survived. Not one. It was then that the Israelites put their full faith in both Moses but more importantly God.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
I don't know about you, but in times of trial, I try to fix the problem in 23 seconds. Quitting is not an option. Power through. Has that ever worked for me? No. I make it worse and worse every time. It isn't until I release control to God that things start moving forward.
Moses told the Israelites that the Lord was going to fight for them, they just needed to be still. Being still doesn't mean we don't do anything ever. The Israelites still had to cross the 9 miles of the Red Sea. They had to take that first step, but they did it in God's time.
David Guzik explains why God often defers to telling his followers to "be still":
"Despair will cast you down, keeping you from standing. Fear will tell you to retreat. Impatience will tell you to do something now. Presumption will tell you to jump into the Red Sea before it is parted"
By stopping and standing still, we allow God to reveal his plan for us.
In three weeks, the world has come to a slow screeching halt. We have been forced to slow down. I pray that you will stop for a few minutes each day to look around and truly see what God has given you in this time of almost forced stillness:
- Families reconnecting
- Reaching out to old and new friends
- Watching nature wake up from a cold winter as Spring has come. The trees are budding, flowers are blooming, allergies are prevalent.
- Time to read a book, do a puzzle, play games
- Seeing how God is working through His people who continue to work in hospitals, stores, as mail carriers, and in agriculture.
Lord, each one of us has a lot of people on our hearts today. The sick, the ones on the front lines, the lonely. Lord, you know the hearts of the people. Please help us to release control to you and be still in the shadow of your love, grace, compassion. Show us your plan and give us the strength to take that first step. In your son's name, Jesus Christ, Amen.