“What’s your plan?” she asked me.
“I’m not entirely sure,” I responded, stunning both her and myself. One of my superpowers is a good plan, but this time I felt at a loss as to what to do.
“I have some ideas and I’m doing my homework. But honestly, I have no idea the right course to take. God is going to have to lead me through this mess one step at a time. It’s beyond me.”
In the months before, I’d found myself in the middle of a life-altering crisis. It was big — bigger than any crisis I’d faced before. And that’s saying something, as I’ve faced more than my share of crises.
But this one was different. All-consuming. Complex. Emotionally charged. With no clear path and very little I could do to affect the ultimate outcome. I felt as if I stood in a field of land mines, unsure which direction offered life and which offered death. A single choice could change everything, forever.
And that’s when I thought of Exodus 14, and another group of people in a similar land-mine scenario.
After hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt, God sent Moses to set His people, the Israelites, free. It was an answer to countless prayers, relief from their endless suffering. With joy, they followed Moses out of Egypt, praising God for His kindness and deliverance.
Until their journey took them to the shore of the Red Sea. The land God had promised them sat on the other side of this impossible expanse. Worse, their slave master, the Egyptian Pharoah, changed his mind about setting them free. Determined to get his cheap labor back, he set out in pursuit with the full threat of his impressive army.
Thousands of Israelites — emaciated and weary from a lifetime of slave labor — faced an impossible sea on one side and an angry army on the other. A life-altering crisis, no doubt. And one without any clear path of escape.
This story has always been a favorite of mine, probably because of its realness. It’s messy, complicated, and full of human and situational complexity. Much the same as the crises you and I find ourselves in the middle of today. This is why God’s direction to the Israelites through Moses holds hope for us as well.
“Moses answered the people, ‘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.’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.'”
Exodus 14:13-15 (NIV)
I shared this story with my friend. Then I did my best to answer her original question.
“I think I’m in a similar situation right now. I feel like I’m surrounded by disaster, and I have no idea how I’m going to get through this in one piece. But I believe God’s words to the Israelites are also His words to me.
First, I need to be still. I cannot let fear and anxiety rule the day. Instead, I need to get grounded in the fact that God is real, and God is with me and for me. I can trust Him, no matter what happens. My heart and mind need to stand still on that truth. Period.”
That in and of itself isn’t easy to do. I took a breath, feeling the weight of what God was asking me to do, yet again.
“That said, stillness isn’t the only thing He was asking of me. I also need to move.”
I did my best to explain. “From these verses, I gather this kind of stillness isn’t a lack of action, a sitting on the couch watching Netflix waiting for the sky to open and Jesus to whoosh in and solve all my problems. The threats I’m facing are real, and I need to have wisdom in how I deal with these threats, both practically and spiritually. To that extent, I am making some preliminary plans, researching options, and getting wise counsel.
But like the Israelites on the shore of the Red Sea, I’m also waiting for God to tell me when and where to step. He’s the only One who can deliver the miracle I need. He’s the only one who knows the best path to take. So I’m waiting on Him, confident in His presence and provision. But I’m also moving forward, to the best of my ability, in that confidence.”
Be still. Now move!
Friend, what is your impossible situation? Regardless of the uniqueness of your story and your pain, there is a God who is able to deliver. In fact, salvation is His specialty.
Get grounded in that truth, that you have a God who is bigger than any ocean or army. One who sees you, loves you, and knows exactly what you need. That is your stillness, even while everything around you rages.
Then, with that truth as the anchor of your soul, move. Take steps forward. Use the wisdom and advisors God has given you to walk in faith. Trust Him. Follow Him.
Be still. Now move.
Your promised land awaits.