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Do you know what is probably the most difficult command of God’s for me to obey? It’s “Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” (1 Samuel 12:16). Come on, Lord; why “stand still”? Why not “Get busy and do this and that and then you’ll see the great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes”? That would be so much easier for me.
As I mentioned, I don’t like standing still. I hate standing still. I love movement. I love busyness. I love activity. I love to-do lists. Let’s go; let’s do; let’s make things happen. You can do it. Just keep trying. Keep on keepin’ on. Those words are music to my ears, but not “stand still.”
Why is it so hard for us to take our hands off and let God run the show? Well, to answer that question for myself, I would say it’s hard for me to stand still because I’m a controller. I want to be in charge. That’s my personality and I’m much more comfortable when I’m running things than when I’m having to take orders. My guess is you may be the same way.
I’d rather drive than be a passenger; I’d rather give a presentation than listen to one; I’d rather lead than follow. So, I constantly struggle to take control of any situation I’m in. Therefore, “stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes” is hard for me to do.
When you dig a little deeper under that personality trait, you discover that the need to control indicates you think you can do it better than anybody else and you don’t trust others as much as you do yourself. Ouch! There’s a lot of pride and sinfulness tucked in that controlling spirit, isn’t there? That’s hard to take, but it’s part of the truth we have to face about ourselves.
At one point in my life when I was going through a particularly difficult period of “standing still,” I would get frustrated and start to take action. And each time, as I would start taking the controls back in my own hands, I would hear the quiet voice of God in my mind saying to me, quite simply, “Can’t you trust me?”
That’s what it takes to stand still—it takes trust. And when you and I are willing to take our hands off, give up the control, and stand still, we are saying to Jesus, “I trust you. You’re smarter than me. You can run this show better than I can.” And when we stand still and demonstrate our faith in him, he is pleased.
Another reason standing still is hard for me is that I’m just not a patient person. I want things to happen now. I hate waiting. My mind tells me, “If you’re standing still, nothing is happening.” But God’s Word says, “Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes.”
I think one reason I am not a patient person is because I hate loose ends. I want to complete the loop and make sure every package has a neat bow on it before moving on. But so often life is full of loose ends, and we have to stand still and let them be.
Paul wrote that patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit, one of the evidences that God’s Spirit is in control of your life. Well, I can sure tell you that when I am patient, it is not me, it is God’s Spirit in me, because I’m no good at being patient. But I’ve learned to pray a lot about being patient, and believe it or not, I am more patient today than I used to be. God is helping me learn how to stand still and let him do it!
Here are some little secrets that are helping me learn how to stand still. When you are emotional about any situation, it is not the time to act. Stand still until your emotions have calmed down and you can be certain that you’re thinking straight. Just today I dashed off an email to tell someone how to do something more effectively—or so I thought—but thankfully before I hit the send button, God’s Spirit just urged me not to send it. So, for once I didn’t let the emotional reaction of the moment cause me to do something without thought or prayer. Often we really want to do something when we’re upset or angry, because our emotions are at such a high. But usually whatever you do or say at that moment is going to be wrong. So, stand still when you’re emotional and wait until those emotions are under control.
I’ve learned to discipline myself to sleep on it. Whatever it is that you think you have to do, get at least one good night’s sleep before you do it, if possible. How different things can look the next day. One woman told me that when she’s upset, she writes it on a piece of paper and puts it aside for two days. After two days she takes it out and decides if it’s still important. If so, she does something. If not, she tears up the note and puts it behind her. That’s a good discipline to help you learn to stand still.
Standing still seems to be required in several key areas:
I think of so many women I know who are having to stand still and see what God is going to do with and for their husbands. These are women married to non-believers or men who are not walking with the Lord. Most of them tell me how they tried for so long to change their husbands, but what they’ve finally come to accept is that they can’t change them; only God can. So, they’re in the “standing still” department now, waiting to see the great thing the Lord is going to do.
Maybe you’re having to stand still when it comes to your children. Most of us parents go through that at various stages, when we simply must take our hands off and let them learn their lessons the hard way, as we say.
Single people often do their share of standing still when it comes to relationships—waiting for the right person or waiting for that right person to make a move.
Most of us go through some tough “standing still” times on our jobs, when we’re ready for a promotion, but the promotion doesn’t come. When we’re expecting or hoping for a raise, and we have to wait. When we’re dealing with a difficult co-worker or boss or work environment about which we can do very little if anything, so it’s stand still time.
With our health
When you’re facing health problems—yours or someone you love—it’s another time when you again learn just how helpless you really are. Even our medical community, with all their techniques and skill, are limited in their ability to solve our health problems. So, there we are faced again with this need to stand still and see what God is going to do.
Standing still wouldn’t be so hard if I could see what God is doing while I’m standing still. You know, if I could just stand on the sidelines and cheer while God is taking some action. Or if he would send me an email to update me daily on the progress he’s making on my behalf. Just seems like as soon as I get still, he does, too, and I can’t see anything happening. Wow, that’s hard!
Asaph seemed to have that same problem, as we read in his Psalm 83: “O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God. See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.” (Psalm 83:1-3).
Asaph is wondering if God has gone to sleep or forgotten him or been distracted. Or perhaps God can’t see what Asaph can see—all those enemies getting ready to attack. Don’t you sometimes wonder if God sees the whole picture? Why is he standing still with all those enemies all around? Just doesn’t make sense to us.
What we have to learn is what Asaph had to learn—that just because you can’t see God working doesn’t mean he isn’t doing anything. When you’re standing still, you can trust that he is working behind the scenes, usually out of your view, and often in ways you would never imagine. But you can believe that his ways are perfect and he has a good plan for you.
Abraham had to stand still and see how God would make him a great nation when he was childless. Moses had to stand still and see how God was going to get them across the Red Sea. Joshua had to stand still and see how those walls were going to come down around Jericho. Esther had to stand still and see if she perished when she asked that her countrymen be spared. But God was working while they were standing still, and you can trust him to work for you, too, even while you’re standing still!
Am I advocating idleness and laziness? Not for a minute. We are to be busy about the Lord’s work, doing everything we do with excellence and making certain that we are good stewards of our time and energy. But we must also learn this important biblical principle of standing still.
Samuel put it so well in his farewell speech when he said, “Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes.” Not only is it important that we stand still and stop trying to do God’s job, but also that we focus our eyes in expectancy on the Lord.
Where is your gaze focused today? On your problems? On the enemies you see all around you? On the tragedies and horrors you are imagining in your mind? If you keep your eyes focused on those things, you won’t be able to stand still. Remember that God is working while you’re standing still, even if you can’t see what he’s doing—and you usually can’t. So, get your mind focused on the Lord, praise him ahead of time for what he’s going to do in this situation, and affirm to him again that you trust him enough to stand still.
Are you allowing your thoughts to go haywire on you, thinking things that are not allowed? Remember Philippians 4:8: we are allowed to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and of a good report. When I start thinking about bad reports or unlovely things, then I want to go into action right away and solve the problem. Of course, the problem is I can’t solve the problem, and when I jump in ahead of God, I just make things so much worse.
Stand still, and while you’re standing still, keep your thoughts focused on the Lord, and expect him to do something great for you. Tell people you expect something great to happen. Be joyful and offer sacrifices of praise, praising God when you don’t see any reason to right at the moment. If you will look for God’s response and get out of the way, he will do some great thing for you. It may not come in the package you’ve asked for, but believe me, it will come.
Faith pleases God, so when we by faith stand still and expect him to work on our behalf, we please him so much. “Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes.” I encourage you to claim that verse in 1 Samuel 12:16 as your own today and not to lose heart. Keep your eyes open so you won’t miss what God is about to do for you. Don’t do something; just stand there!