Be Still.

The last 6 months have not been my favorite. I was kind of hoping 2016 would ring in nothing but rainbows and puppy dogs, but it isn’t turning out that way. It’s not necessarily that circumstances keep rising up, but that Satan is trying real hard to devour. The struggle is real and all I feel like I’m doing is running into walls. I am weary a lot of the time. Sometimes I don’t know what to do, what to think, where to start, how to feel, who to talk to, what to say, when to be bold, when to wait, when to be detailed, when to be vague, how many cupcakes is appropriate to eat for dinner, and that list goes on and on. And sometimes I feel like this season has gone on long enough. This bout in the wilderness couldn’t be part of “THE” plan – right? I mean, I’ve got things to do, people to see, a world to change, and funny sayings to doodle about!

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

In Exodus 14, we find the recently released Israelites retreating from Egypt with the plan to head to the Promised Land. Somewhere along the way, the Lord told the Israelites to turn back and camp near the Red Sea. In turn, Pharaoh would think they were lost & confused and he would pursue them. God then said, “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. So the Israelites did this.” Sure enough, Pharaoh came rolling in baller-style with all his horses, chariots, and troops and the Egyptians overtook them. The Israelites were terrified, mouthy, and doubted that “THIS” was “THE” plan. Then Moses said, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today…the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

How often are we lost, confused, and weary? How often do we just want a way out? When do we see that present circumstances can be used so that God will be glorified? That maybe Jesus will be seen by others (and ourselves) through our trials? That instead of running to or away from something, we just need to be still?

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

A few months ago, in the midst of life’s chaos, my church asked a guest speaker to come talk with some of the women that were doing discipleship together. Her name is Lina Abujamra and she is a powerful, dynamic, and entertaining speaker (look her up!). Her message was simple: Sometimes God allures us into the wilderness and uses those things to speak to us. He can turn the valley of trouble into a door of hope. Her words came from the book of Hosea, which is a beautiful, symbolic story of God’s relationship to Israel. Israel was acting out and not being faithful, again. Like me a lot of times. The Lord said in chapter 2, verses 14 through 15: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor [Valley of Trouble] a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

Lina also said some other thought provoking, challenging things:

  • The best place to know what you believe is the place where you don’t have what you want.
  • One of the most common mistakes we make in the wilderness is we lose focus and forget what He can do.
  • The discontented heart complains but contentment is the bold affirmation that my Father knows best.
  • The jealous heart compares.
  • The fearful heart reacts in sin.
  • The proud heart controls.
  • The self-centered heart bails.
  • The surrendered heart trusts and obeys.
  • One of the most important things to do: Resolve to live by faith no matter what.

Reality check. Big time. Especially the last week. Woof. How am I responding to His call into the wilderness? How I respond impacts others so I should respond wisely. Respond in such a way that brings God glory.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I am not-so-good with the being “still” thing. I am really good at the fighting thing. And if I see an obstacle coming, I try to tackle, divert, or stop it from happening. I am strong-willed, independent, self-sufficient, resilient, and like to get things done. Let me at it…whatever “it” is. But what if I was to just be still. To think about what my eyes are focused on. To surrender. To pray. To remember what He can do. To have faith that God delivers. To get to a point of total dependence on Him. To realize maybe He is allowing this for His glory. At the end of the day, He’s all I’ve got.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Whatever the reasons, this has been a tremendously hard, yet peacefully indescribable season. I’ve deeply grown in my walk with Christ. I’ve seen firsthand the Giver of good gifts grant joy and perseverance. I’ve experienced His almighty protection. I’ve trusted Him in circumstances that I’ve always struggled with surrendering. His goodness and faithfulness are widespread. I’ve witnessed Him glorified in ways I never have before…in ways I never considered before. He has allured me to the wilderness and is wooing me in such a way that I am remembering He is my First Love. Everyday my mind is blown when I think about His goodness, protection, pursuit, and love. He gives freedom and freedom is beautiful. He is a good, good Father.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

So now what?  Remember, God has amazing plans for your life. Allow Him to allure you, to fight for you. Although The Message translation isn’t always my favorite, I think 2 Peter 1:3-8 says it best:

“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

If you, too, feel like you are in the desert, take heart. Be passionately patient. I love that – passionately patient. Take this time to develop your faith, deepen your love, and be still. Relentlessly pursue and trust the One who created you, loves you, fights for you, redeems you, and died for you. 

Welcome the wilderness. Incredible things happen here.

 

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

 

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