Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Living Somewhere Between Plagues and the Promised Land

The kids are all in school and I sit through my second morning of solitude. It is the best part of the day, a time of peace and communion. 

It is also unpredictable. I'm reading a chapter a day of a book that's come at just the right time; I echo so many of the author's thoughts about the sacred place of stillness. She speaks of her first experience with extended solitude and how tears, unannounced, began to stream down her face during lunch: 

Because I had space to feel what I was feeling, I could begin acknowledging truth that I had not known how to name before. {Ruth Haley Barton}

And so it is with me. 

Space brings truth and truth allows us to name the things down deep. And this fluid process brings unexpected emotion, sort of like an old pump that's being primed and churning up gushing, subterranean waters. 

Truth has also come in the fresh light of the Word and in the space that allows for quiet meditation, sometimes on old familiar stories.

This book I'm reading referenced Exodus 14:13-14 and I felt compelled to read through the backstory of the Israelites' long-awaited freedom from the Egyptians, only to be faced with the drama of the Red Sea before them. 

I've heard the story many times since childhood but it's funny how experience allows you to see and feel old Bible stories with new empathy. We can be awfully hard on the Israelites, condemning their faithlessness and ingratitude. But when you look at what they'd endured prior to the Exodus, well, I marvel that they were still standing. 

The Israelites, God's chosen and beloved people, had endured centuries of slavery and oppression, only to be buoyed by false hope as one plague after another fell upon their undeterred oppressors. They fled a land of death and destruction and were led along an extended desert route {weapons in hand lest opposing armies attack} only to be faced with the Red Sea in front of them and the relentless Egyptians behind them. 

Lord, how I feel like them. 

I don't type those words flippantly and it may seem indulgent to compare my comfortable, middle-class, American life with the plight of newly-freed slaves. The analogy is figurative but the emotions, the weariness, they are surely connected. That is part of beauty of Scripture; the stories of God's people—His very human and very loved people—they bear witness to our own experiences.

Right now I feel a bit like I'm on the shore on the Red Sea; it's a shore I've visited many times. The unbelievable travails of the past are anything but ancient history; the frightfulness and overwhelming realities of the future seem like an vast ocean. I'd prefer to dig a trench in the sand and bury myself in it. 

But God spoke through Moses with this message for His bewildered people:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Every time I read those words, I want to weep. If this isn't good news, nothing is. God keeps showing me that stillness, not productivity, brings salvation. Our hope is found in quiet trust, no matter how afraid and bedraggled we feel. Those are comforting words for the weary. After all, weary folks can't do a whole lot besides wait; they've no fight left in them.

Perhaps you stand on the sandy shores alongside me. The past reads like one crazy plague after another and you feel as though you may drown in the swirling, unknown waters of the future. The Promised Land feels a world away but His presence? It has never been nearer.

Let's be still and trust against all reason...

God is for us. He fights for us. We need only to be still.


  1. Wow! I know it's an overused word, but...wow. Love this post. Thank you for sharing this encouraging message of hope for the weary.

  2. Girl, we just need to have coffee. That's all. :)

  3. Scooper,
    Well said! thank you for posting I needed this reminder.

  4. I needed this as well, I've been praying over this new season in life where all three kids are going to be at school. And I'm lost as to how to fill my time, but I keep hearing His reminder: be still. I don't have to work at this so hard, I just need to be still.

    Thank you for sharing, and I pray many blessings on your quiet days.

  5. Amazing. You are amazing. Thank you for this beautiful post.


Share your thoughts?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin