I have always had a problem being still. I am a very energetic person by nature, often tapping my foot, flipping my pen cap around my fingers, or just jittering with unused energy. If you have been around me for any length of time, I am sure you have witnessed the many times I have tripped over my own two feet or randomly run into a wall, all in the name of not being able to be still.
However, one of my goals for this year has been to learn how to be still in all areas of my life a little bit better. Though it’s easy to joke about my lack of hand-eye coordination or incessant energy, being still for me is more a heart issue than a physical one. In the book of Exodus, when the Israelites are being pursued by the Egyptians and are looking out at the deep waters of the Red Sea, God offers Moses this advice.
“ The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be silent.”
In the non-ESV version, the be silent verse is translated to be still. God is telling Moses that it though looks like everything he just spent the past months and years working on was about to end in a matter of seconds, God is still there and is still fighting.
I have never been faced with an army pursuing me as I look at an ocean as my only way to escape, but I do have many experiences from my life where I felt trapped where I was. And that’s exactly how I am sure the Israelites felt. They felt trapped physically by the ocean but also trapped by their circumstances and their lives. I am sure we can all relate to a time that we felt trapped by our circumstances. The man you are seeing suddenly calls it off. You get laid off from your job. A bad diagnosis shakes the core of your family. It can be easy to think that our problems are ours alone to deal with and forget that we have a great defender who is standing by our sides, waiting to part the waters.
As a natural worrier, it can be really hard to trust God with the bigger areas of my life. What my career path looks like, making friends, moving to a new area, meeting my future husband. I find myself looking towards the future, grappling with the wideness and depth of the ocean in front of me, certain there is no way I will be able to cross it. I am learning that I often turn inwardly to myself or others to help me navigate these waters. I try to tentatively wade out on my own, thinking that I can swim to the other side, but I only make it a few strokes before I am drowning quite literally in the sea of my tears and fears.
But God doesn’t want me or you to live this way anymore. He wants us to stand back, relax, maybe get a manicure, and come back to see the sea parted for us. He doesn’t want to have to wade out and pull our struggling forms out of the water, though He will. He wants us to trust Him with everything.
And I wish I could tell you that I was great at trusting God with the small every day things. That yes, I can’t let go of the big stuff, but the small decisions, have your way, God. But then I thought about it for a solid two minutes and realized I don’t even trust Him with the small stuff always.
I depend on myself to make money so I can buy my food so that I can pay my bills. I rely on my uncle to continue housing me and not to kick me out on the street, but not God.
I pray a big game. I mean I really do. I am the queen of praying to God about stuff that I entirely don’t trust Him with. And I know that He can see that I am a phony too. When I pray to Him about my future or about my future spouse, I always pray for Him and the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me, but I don’t look out for them. I pray for my heart or circumstances to change, but then I don’t let them work in me.
At the root of my being, I know that I can trust God. But I don’t always trust Him to provide me with good things. A quote I love by CS Lewis sums up what I am feeling perfectly,
“It is not that we are necessarily doubting that God will do what is best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will be.”
It can be hard to see the good in our world every day. Families are torn apart; car accidents kill loved ones, friendships fall apart, people get laid off. And yes, God never promises that we will have an easy life as His followers, but He does promise to fight for us, we just have to be still.
So, this year, I vow to spend less time trying to solve my own problems, and more time sitting back and letting God work His magic. Because yes, God will intervene in our lives no matter if we trust Him or not, but if we do trust Him, we get to be part of a much more beautiful story than if we tried to do it on our own. We open ourselves up to our utter humility and just desperation for God, and I don’t know about you, but I constantly find myself needing to fill up on that. Maybe you like me, are a chronic worrier, someone who wants to trust God with everything they have, but just isn’t sure where to start. Here are some ideas that I have for the worriers in all of us.
Praying, Praying A lot
I often go throughout my day only praying during my designated quiet time. But I want to be someone who realizes their dependence on God every day, every hour, every minute. My prayer is that I pray more and more. Because if you think that Moses stopped praying just because God said He would fight for Him, you’re mistaken. Now, I don’t personally know Moses, but I bet that God sharing that with him caused him to fall to his knees, thank God, and pray even harder.
Be Real About Where You’re At
Don’t let your Christian friends or church community guilt you about not trusting in God. If you have someone in your life who, “can’t relate,” to not trusting God, you may need to step away from them because I think they have to be a sociopath. Everyone worries and forgets to trust God. What helps us is to remind ourselves and others of the times that God has shown up and taken care of our battles for us. Find friends you can be real with about this struggle; I guarantee that you won’t be alone.
Be a Testimony Collector
I think we often think about our testimony as the story where we either accepted Jesus for the first time or when we had our first big encounter with God. Me, I think of testimonies a little bit differently. I think at their core; testimonies are just stories where God undisputably showed up. It can be a miracle, healing, or when you got an A on a test, you thought you failed. Stories have become part of my love language. Partially because Shauna Niequist, but mostly because stories are what bring people together. They can be communicated in any language and shared around any table. So don’t be afraid to share your stories or to ask others about stories they can share when they trusted God, and He showed up.
Give Grace, But Don’t Give Up
Don’t beat yourself up when you turn to your mom instead of God in prayer. Don’t beat yourself up every time that you start to doubt. But also, don’t give up trying to trust God above anything and anyone else. Though I am nowhere near the finish line for this myself, I know that giving up just because I am falling behind isn’t the solution. So find that balance between not feeling sick to your stomach with guilt, but also not being too lackadaisical. Give yourself grace in the moments you need it, and push on and cry out to God in the moments you want to toss in the towel.
I hope that you can relate to the words I have written today. And that if you are in a season of waiting, that you can take some time to be still before God today. Ask Him what He wants you to do, and set aside time to actually listen. I hope that this year is a year that we all can make some baby steps, strides, or even leaps to trusting God more and more.