Impossible Instructions


“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” Exodus 14:13

The uncrossable sea growls in front of them, a tyrant’s roar rings in their ears, weapon-wielding soldiers bear down. Defeat and death are sure for the terrified Israelites. In spite of God championing their escape from the horrors of captivity, they lose courage, longing for that which had imprisoned them. “God, take us back to the familiar, to whips and hunger, to servitude. Anything’s better than dying here in the desert.”

Any skilled and experienced military general now encourages the people with a rousing speech and strategic battle plan. Later in their journey, God did indeed give detailed military instructions: “Circle the city seven times, blow your trumpets, take the city.” But now, at the beginning of the long journey, God says the impossible:

Don’t be afraid…stand firm…the Lord will fight for you…BE STILL.”

What sea faces you?

What tyrant is roaring? What enemies aim their arrows of discouragement, loss, and fear? Before God gives the command to move on, he asks that we be still. Stop long enough to gaze into God’s face. Stop in holy quiet to shut out the roar of the tempter who insidiously murmurs that God isn’t strong enough, isn’t loving enough, can’t possibly care for insignificant you. Stop long enough to hear God’s sure whisper,

I will fight for you.”

Often it’s only after those moments—or days—of stillness that we hear the next instruction: “Move on.” And when we’ve crossed the uncrossable sea, we, like one of the brave Israelite women will sing,

The Lord is my strength and defense… He is my God and I will praise him…

I confess, Lord, that the growling seas, tyrant’s’ roar, and enemy’s weapons either pull me into easy submission or a fighting stance in my own strength. Please help me keep my eyes on you and my ears tuned to your “Be still.”

By Marilyn Ehle
Used by Permission

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