The people of Israel had escaped from Egypt but now realize Pharaoh and his mighty armies were hot on their heels. They run faster. Then they stop dead in their tracks. They’re confronted by the Red Sea and there’s nowhere to hide from the advancing armies. The people cry out to Moses. He cries out to God, and God says he will fight for them. They just need to be quiet and wait.
This may be one of the most difficult commands in all of Scripture! It involves:
Silence. No crying. No shouts. No complaining. Just quietness.
Waiting. Unable to anticipate if God will act and, if so, how? And when?
Standing still. No helping. Only waiting for God to do something.
Being cautiously hopeful. Just maybe God has a plan.
He does have a plan. Always! But often we keep protesting our circumstances and trying to help God out with ideas of our own. We run ahead, we pace the floor, we plead. Right now he might be saying, “I’ll fight for you. Just sit still and be quiet.”
What do we do while we’re practicing quietness? We can thank him for his his loving care and his mighty resources – the ones we have experienced already and the ones we don’t know about yet. Then praise him for his power, his mercy, and his majesty. Wait. Thank. Praise. The answer will come – right on time.
For the Israelites, the Red Sea opened for them to cross into safety, out of reach forever from the Egyptian armies. What will it be for me? For you? Let’s wait in great anticipation of God’s amazing grace.
“It takes more effort to be still than to run.” – Brennan Manning
“Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Some day people will realize what that means. They will know nothing of life till they do.” – Oscar Wilde
Nobody signs up for suffering, but it happens to us all: sickness, tragedy, loss, and pain. The hardest of all is the struggle that just keeps hanging on and day after day we feel alone in a hot, dry desert.
If you are there, be encouraged! God uses desert time to make us strong, to help us learn dependence on him, and, often, to prepare us for something he wants us to do. Think about Moses who spent years there tending sheep before God called him to lead his people out of slavery. The Israelites spent four decades in the desert learning to trust God alone to meet their needs. Jesus was in the desert for forty days of fasting and prayer before beginning his public ministry. His wilderness time included direct confrontations with Satan. The desert can be a difficult and dangerous place!
Desert experiences tend to strip away the trappings of life so we can see what is truly essential. It is then that God can reach down, touch our souls, and feed us with food that will satisfy: Manna, refreshment for the spirit, just enough until we are healthy and strong and ready to be led out of the wilds into a more abundant life.
The desert truly is holy ground. If you are suffering today, be as open as you can to God and his Spirit within you. Over time, his healing touch will come.
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. – Psalm 30:11-12