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When to Move Forward & When to Stand Still

My wife, Mandy, and I have two kids, a 16-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. They’re very different. But, neither of them can sit still. And, they’ve almost always been that way. For instance, from the time our son was about seven months old until he turned 18 months old, we’re not sure if he ever slept a single night all the way through. Even in everyday moments, he was fidgety. Taking him to a sitting that required a child to be still was like wrestling an alligator! And, now at fourteen, he still is moving all the time. His hands, his feet, his body, or his mind – he can’t sit still!

If you’ve raised any children, you can probably relate to some degree in one way or the other. But, as well, I think all of us struggle with “stillness” in our own way. We’ve all got something child-like going on in our life spiritually when it comes to being still. In some way, I think it is probably directly connected to the enemy’s work in our life. And, here’s why.

One of the MOST FAMOUS passages in the Bible reminds us of the need for STILLNESS:

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand STILL, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today... 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13–14 (NKJV)

Notice, “Do not be afraid.” The implication is that there is something present to fear. But, when we're afraid, the last thing we want to do is stand still. But, I believe one of the things that God is communicating in this passage of Scripture is that you display that you have overcome fear by standing still when there is reason to fear. In other words, don’t run away from your enemy, just to be running. Trust God!

However, there is the potential to get confused in this text because of how the passage reads. In the context of verses 13 and 14, God is telling them to stand still, but in the very next verse, Exodus 14:15, the Lord tells them to GO FORWARD.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. Exodus 14:15 (NKJV)

Lord, I need clarity. I thought you just told me to stand still, and now you're telling me to go forward. God, which one is it that you want from me? Do you want me to stand still, or do you want me to go forward?”

If we were honest, many of us are in that same place of tension in our walk with God. We're not sure if we should stand still or keep moving. But, let’s unpackage it for a moment. If you look further into Scripture, you will find God says more than once, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 20:17 also has this exact wording.

You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand STILL and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you… Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17–21 (NKJV)

Just like, in the context of the passage, we can see the promise God shared with his people in Exodus 14, he is also decreeing in 2 Chronicles 20: his people will not need to fight their battle! Instead, they will get to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. So, when we put the two passages together, we begin to see a couple of things that match the character of God’s directives: 1) There is a time to go forward. 2) There is a time to stand still.

The purpose of going forward in association with God’s command is so that you can reposition yourself into the vantage point and placement that he prefers for your life. You’re going to get to “see” something! But the main reason God requires repositioning is because he intends to fight for you.

So, how do we know when it's time to be still?

One of the ways it becomes evident it's time to stand still is when we can evaluate our life and determine the only reason we are still moving is that we fear something that is chasing us. God has not given you that spirit or attitude. And, if you are running from relationship to relationship or job to job because you fear betrayal, relapse, or the bite of bitterness, then it may be time to stand still. Ask yourself, “Am I still moving forward because it is a clear instruction from God, or am I doing it because I'm running from something?”

The Israelites needed to go forward because the Egyptian’s had released them from captivity. But, once they started to move forward, they quickly found themselves with a mountain on each side of them and the Red Sea in front of them. If you are familiar with the story, you know that they were trapped. As a result, God parted the Red Sea, and the Israelites walked across on dry ground, escaping impending doom in the process. But, this place in the story is where things get increasingly interesting. Even though the Hebrew people were now on the other side of the Red Sea, their enemy was still chasing them. In response to this tactic of the enemy, the Bible explicitly says that God caused the wheels to come off the enemy's chariots. Meaning the thing that was chasing them couldn't chase them any longer! God was saying through this action, “You can now stand still and see My salvation.” They got the opportunity just to stand still and watch God go to work!

Our God has a way of making old things pass away and making everything new again. We become born again in Christ Jesus, and the result of that monumental event is that things that used to have a hold on us – God takes the wheels off of it. That hurt, habit, or hang-up no longer has permission to chase us. We can stop running!

What’s chasing you? Have you acknowledged that the thing that was chasing you might not be chasing you anymore? Maybe it’s time to consider being still and watch God go to work?

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