A 3am thunderstorm was raging outside. I was neither sleeping well nor spiritually peaceful, the physical reality outside reflecting the chaos of my inner world. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my Bible, and started boiling some water for a cup of tea. It seemed there was no chance of the storm calming down outside. I was awake for the day.
Cradling my hot tea in my groggy state, I thought back to a moment a week prior when I journaled the words, “I’m still here.” When I had written those words God asked me, “But are you?”
Oof. God doesn’t ask us questions because He doesn’t know the answers. He wants us to face that question head-on and answer for our own benefit. It was apparently time to answer that question.
Feeling completely stuck, my situation looking the same as it did the year before, I was struggling to stand firm on God’s promises anymore. I knew full well I wasn’t resting well in the spiritual storm I was in. I was riddled with fear and anxiety. I physically couldn’t tune out the sound of the thunderstorm around me this particular morning, let alone the lies of the enemy. The hole in my wall that developed later that day from a leaky roof matched the hole in my heart… she writes, so melodramatically.
Sometimes we feel as if we’re stuck in the same place. “I’m still here.” A year goes by – or five or ten – with no progress to show for it. Still waiting. Still hoping. Still believing for a miracle. Still here.
But when we are in a continued place of waiting, while we are still here, are we still, here? Are we here and also still? Do we really understand what stillness is?
I’ve started to see a direct correlation between being still and also standing. When we think of “being still” we think of rest. We probably picture ourselves seated, maybe by a calm lake or in a field of wildflowers. We assume tranquility. However, when God fought a battle for His people, they were still, but they weren’t sitting. They were standing ready.
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.2 Chronicles 20:17
In this recent intense and super vague, I’m-not-going-into-personal-details-on-a-blog spiritual storm, I asked some close friends to fast on my behalf with me. I had never done that before. I’m not one to ask for help with much of anything. Humbling myself enough to ask people to skip delicious meals to pray for me was genuinely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
A brief commercial break: If you don’t have a group of friends who will say yes to crazy requests like this, you need to get some. It’s life-changing.
It reminded me of when Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s arms during battle in Exodus 17. Moses himself wasn’t even fighting, but He needed support while standing still and holding up his staff on the mountain above the battle. As long as his arms were raised, the Israelites were winning the battle. As soon as his arms fell, the Israelites started losing. So his friends grabbed a rock for him to sit on, stood next to him, and held his arms up while he stayed still.
A few chapters before Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s arms in battle, The Israelites were standing at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army fast approaching.
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”Exodus 14:13-14
We quote that verse a lot when people are struggling. “Be still. Just be still.” But right before that, Moses gives the instruction to, “Stand firm.”
During the fast, one of my friends mentioned Ephesians 6 to me, where Paul wrote about putting on the armor of God so you can stand firm.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.Ephesians 6:13
And after you have done everything, to stand.
Stillness isn’t a seated position. Stillness is not a mystical, zen state of mind while the world crumbles around you. Stillness is standing firm on God’s truth and His promises. Only when we stand, can we truly be still.
Not like walking or running, standing is a stationary posture. But standing is still active. Standing is being still, but not idle. Standing is a readiness. When God says to “Be still” we aren’t to spiritually sit down and relax. That is not the time to check out. When God says, “Be still,” that is our cue to armor up and stand firm on His truth yet again.
As the Body of Christ, we aren’t on the defense; we are literally always on the offense because the war has already been won. Curling up in the fetal position to take a beating in our spiritual battles is never what God intends for us when He says, “Be still.” We are the Church. The gates of hell cannot stand against us. We’re advancing. We’re taking ground. Through Jesus, we have full power and authority over the rulers of this dark world. But we have to stand up and stand firm.
I won’t back down
The first night of this particular storm, the lyrics from Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” popped into my head. Actually, it was more of a burning rage deep within my bones in a, “hell, no. This is not happening,” kind of way. But I think that was the passion God wanted to stir up in me. Everything in me wanted to quit that night. But God put that song into my spirit to keep standing. I drove around the city into the wee hours of the morning belting that song like a prayer, a battle cry against the enemy’s fiery darts, and as a reminder to myself not to sit down. “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down. No, I’ll stand my ground.” I will stand firm. I will stand resolute. I will stand still and let God fight this battle.
If you are up against something bigger than you, then let God fight for you. If you are still in the same place waiting for God’s promises to unfold, don’t sit. Instead, put on the full armor of God so you can stand firm. Get some friends to hold your arms up when you can’t anymore. Fast and pray. Prepare. And after you have done everything, stand firm, stand still. And you will see the deliverance of the Lord.