You Need Only Be Still (And Then Get Moving!)

hiking_smI’m not very good at being still. I fidget. I pace. I drum my fingers on counters and chew pencils into nubs. There may be some deeper issues at play, but I have always struggled with being still. Mentally, literally, spiritually—I am not always productive, but I am often moving.

I don’t remember this particular verse from Exodus sticking out in my head when I first heard the Moses story as a child, but a few years ago during a church service it jumped out at me:

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

This verse is preceded by the famous complaint of the Israelites: they criticize Moses for having brought them to the desert to die, and tell him they would have been better off in Egypt as slaves. They are whiny, unappreciative, and lacking in perspective. In other words, they are me. Every time I forget where I’ve been, or what God is doing, or even that God is with me, these sorts of complaints come out of my heart.

In response, Moses delivers this inspiring mini-lecture, telling them that God is in their corner and they need only stand firm to be delivered. He goes on to assure them that they will never see their present opponents, the Egyptians, again. In my mind this is a call for us to be still, be peaceful, and let God do the work.

In reality, God responds to Moses’s comforting speech by saying, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

So perhaps this isn’t the “be still and peaceful” speech I’d like it to be, because God basically says, “Why are you whining? Get walking! Time’s a-wasting!” God follows it up by directing Moses to perform his parting the seas trick, so God’s still helping them out, but God seems to have no time for this “be still” business. Perhaps God wants us to continue this inner spirit of peacefulness and mindfulness, but God is the same God who performed a whole series of miracles to get you out of Egypt. And God doesn’t seem to have any interest now in giving you time to sit down now and take a rest.

And maybe there’s a lesson there as well. There are times to be still: in prayer at Gethsemane, at dinner with friends, preaching in a synagogue. But then. . . Christ would sail across a sea, or walk across a valley, or march through a city. He would be still, and there find the courage and the energy and the will to move. Perhaps the Israelites did just that: in their moment of stillness and courage-gathering they found the will to move on—forward, away from Egypt and toward the Promised Land, however far away it was at the time.

So in our still moments, gather your courage, your energy, and your will, knowing in your heart that the moments for being still are few, and the time to move on will come all too quickly. And know that the Lord, who encourages us onward, goes with us.

Photo Credit: Donyale Leslie

Photo Credit: Donyale Leslie

Kimberly McClung DeVries was raised in a minister’s family, first overseas as missionaries and then in Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia to receive a degree in telecommunications, worked briefly in that field, and then went to law school instead, also in Athens. She has worked as a public defender and for a legal aid agency, and now resides in Michigan with her husband and two boys. Kimberly’s current life experiences seem to be focusing on pushing her out of her comfort zone, and that is the theme of her current writing.

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