Core Decorum: stillness

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

In Exodus 14:14, Moses tells the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”  The Egyptians were pursuing the Israelites, and it seemed as if there was no way out for them; the Israelites were scared, and began to question and doubt. In response to their fears, Moses told them simply to be still and let God do the rest. Following this verse, the Lord gives Moses the power to part the Red Sea and rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians.

Even though we are not literally stopped at the shore of a raging sea, we, like the Israelites, often find ourselves at a dead end. Whether it be a lost job prospect, a failed test or even heartbreak, we start to question and doubt God’s plan for us. It becomes especially hard when we watch the lives around us fall seemingly into place. In those moments, it feels like God has forgotten about us or that our future is destined to unravel. When one thing goes wrong it feels like everything else simultaneously collapses. It is in these times that we must take Moses’ words to heart and simply be still.

What then, does it mean to be still? Should we stop everything, hide in our rooms and wait for God to piece our lives back together? It is important to recognize that the stillness Moses encourages is a stillness of heart, not physical inactivity. It is a state in which we recognize that we are not asked to bear the pains and sorrows of life alone; He is there to help us fight. An inner stillness comes from enduring hardships and offering them to God, trusting that they are part of a greater plan.

However, remaining in a state of patience is difficult, especially since our culture thrives on instant gratification. We are not familiar with asking questions and not receiving a quick and direct response. It is easy to lose faith in God when it seems like He never supplies us with the right things at the right times.

Unfortunately, there is not a magical button we can press to instantly put our hearts at rest and make hardships less painful. However, we can root ourselves in our faith and continue forwards with the knowledge that we are not alone in our battles. Without faith, we cannot have patience.

When we wholeheartedly put our trust in the Lord, we feel more at ease. We become confident in the plan God has for us and no longer feel rushed to make things happen at the specific times we want them to. This is not to say that the feelings of distress and restlessness will not return; it means that when they do, we will know where to turn and won’t find ourselves up against raging waters. We will be able to trust that the Lord will divide the waters and provide a path for us.

To be still means to live as fervently as we can and leave the rest up to God.

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