Friday, November 17, 2017
When I first came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, Exodus 14:14 emerged from my Jewish childhood and became my life preserver as relationships and traditions grew contentious and fractured.
Loved ones and friends wouldn’t speak to me. Or they had choice words for me. Or they diagnosed me. Or they put conditions on our relationship. I clung to Exodus 14:14 for peace and strength in the moment and hope for the future.
Over the years, I’ve often turned back to that verse. Whether the “pharaoh” bearing down on me was a physical, relational or circumstantial hardship, I’ve tried to loosen my grip and let God fight for me as I stand between deep waters and a relentless pursuer.
In these moments, I (usually) trust God enough to stop trying to control my circumstances. But here's the problem: my human heart doesn't know what to do with the stillness. So, even when I stand still, submitted in thought and deed to God’s goodness and His greater purpose, my heart isn't very still at all. Sometimes it races with fear. Sometimes it rages with anger. Sometimes it sinks with depression.
This week has been one of those Exodus 14:14 times for me. A week when God has told me to be still and let Him do what only He can do. But, once again, while my brain has stopped strategizing scenarios over which I have no control, my heart has looked across the sea and become angry at Pharaoh. Fearful. Despondent.
So, this time I (finally) decided to figure out what to do with my stillness.
I looked up the Hebrew word for “still” in Exodus 14:14. And - as He always does - God blew my mind and humbled my spirit. And showed me that there’s so much more to being still than simply being still.
Charash. Yes, the root word means to be still and to be silent. But it also means to be plowed. Plowed.
Interestingly - providentially - my worship pastor spoke about plowing soil just this past Sunday, so the visual is fresh in my mind.
In this context, it's both a beautiful and painful thought. Because, as I'm sitting still, letting God fight for me, I must also let Him plow my heart. To let the blade of His Spirit get under my fear and my anger and my sadness and bring up fresh soil. To not just submit my circumstances to His control, but my heart to His care. So that as He is fighting for me on the outside, He can also change me on the inside.
Not surprisingly, as I allow Him to break up the inner hardness, I find it easier to let Him fight the outward battle, too.
And so, as this week comes to a close, my circumstances haven't changed, but my heart is being transformed.
What about you? Do you need only to be "still?" Let the Warrior and the Farmer do His work...