stand still

My morning devotional was not about the 4 train, but I’m going to pretend that the “Express track” was also taking direction from the Lord in Exodus 14:13, “Stand still – and see the salvation of the Lord” because it makes me feel like we have a common goal. Spurgeon writes,

“Faith … hears God say, ‘Stand still’ and immovable as a rock it stands. ‘Stand still’ – keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long before God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward!”

I get impatient for those “go forward” words and I am bad at standing still. If I must not be advancing, I end up stationary wrestling (like a stationary bike, without the bike and without the exercise) and that always makes a mess of emotional knots.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past three days: only God can speak the “Go forward” words with authority and only God has, for a time, said to me, “Stand still.” Only His words matter. My words, persistent though they may be, are light like feathers.

I will always be praying against unbelief, because being still and being patient will always be a struggle. I am learning that I sometimes fight repeat lessons with the same stationary wrestling. But God is so faithful. He gives grace upon grace so I can believe that what He says is true. It reminds me of the song my mom chose as a theme for all the three months of wedding planning.

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

He is not surprised or disappointed when I pray for more grace and more belief. He knows how much I need both and He is delighted to give without limit. When I am listening, I can hear him reminding me to stand still in faith so that I can go forward in faith when He is ready to give that direction.

freed from bondage | freed to weakness

I was thinking about the Exodus as I climbed out of my dreams and into the morning. I can’t explain why I had Exodus on the brain, but I remember reaching for a blog title and rolling around the words “bondage” and “weakness.”

This pre-waking creative exercise faded into daylight tasks until a friend sent me a text update. The jumbled Exodus-freed-bondage-weakness message popped into my head and came out as encouragement that my friend and I both needed to hear.

Remember that slogan that appeared on every men’s athletic shirt in high school?
“Pain is weakness leaving the body”

It’s not true.

Pain might remind us of our weakness, but no matter how many hours we spend in life’s weight room we will always be weak. No matter how strong we manage to make our muscles or how disciplined our diets, we will always be weak. No matter how many times we beat the diseases that threaten our health or how many tragedies our hearts weary through, we will always be weak.

When the Israelites marched in a freedom parade out of the place of their bondage, they might have felt like they conquered. I imagine they felt a sense of national pride at what had been accomplished by way of the (somewhat questionable) negotiating techniques of their leader. As they put one free foot in front of the other, I wonder if they spoke to each other, “We are no longer slaves to those who oppressed us! We are absolutely free to order the day as we please!”

Free. They probably waved their own kind of flag that day – proud to be a nation set apart and not defined by slavery.

But, O! how their hearts forgot who bought their freedom!

Freedom has a way of emboldening a person – planting a seed of misplaced courage. I wonder if a strong, newly freed man turned to another and said, “Look – we are free! Think what we can do now!”

We know what they did with their freedom and it wasn’t praise God for life and breath and rescue.

I’ve been thinking about weakness and not because I want to get rid of it.
I’ve been thinking about weakness because the white flag is the only one that can fly when we walk out our exodus.

The only reason I am freed from the bondage of sin rests squarely on the shoulders of Christ – the sacrifice planned by God’s grace to release me from my chains. But it is not a singular freeing event. The victory He won over my sin is not simply a mark in the timeline of my sanctification.

If I shake the Eqypt dust off my feet and believe the glory of the sin defying victories was a one time event, I will forget that I will always be weak.

My weakness is an invitation for Christ to be strong.
My weakness is a proclamation that I have nothing in which to boast.
My weakness is a reminder that it is to this we have been freed.

We are freed to be weak and our sanctification will never lead us to be anything else.