I wonder if I’m unusual in that I tend to look up and see the time on the digital clock right when it’s 12:17 (my birthday). This happens frequently; also, expiration dates on milk cartons seem to reflect important dates and the birthdays of others all too often. The other day I was handed change for a $20 at the Dollar Store and the clerk said, “$14.14, that’s a good number!” I told her, “Yes it is!” because it immediately brought to mind Exodus 14:14. So now, in addition to numbers that I espy representing significant dates, they now also bring to mind Bible verses J
In this chapter of Exodus, the Israelites, that group of whining, complaining, and fickle ex-slaves of the Egyptians, are following their leader Moses through the desert; bickering and nagging at him the entire way. They soon realize that they are being pursued by their former captives, and, as my Father would say, they “Homered”.
I must digress and explain this family terminology. Homer was my Father and step-mom’s big black cat with a serious overbite and an even more serious lack of (the usual) cat-savvy. He was routinely beat-up by his older brother, Cletus, who, while not a mean cat, was a hunter. More than likely, Cletus was simply using Homer as a form of convenient target practice. In any case, Homer became so paranoid that Cletus might “attack” at any moment that any small noise or movement would stop him dead in his tracks; whatever he was doing or wherever he was going. He might be aimlessly meandering across the family room floor on his way to a patch of sunlight when he’d hear “something” (Cletus or not) and he’d immediately freeze, flatten himself to the floor, eyes wild and staring in fear, unable to move; unable to do anything but stay put and look foolishly ridiculous. Then, out of the blue, he’d totally make the wrong move and bolt right into a wall.
After observing Homer’s behavior, whenever we’d encounter a situation where a person appeared to become immobilized, unable to make a decision or to move forward and/or to make a completely nonsensical move with seemingly no thought behind it (another term for this being “Like a deer in the headlights”), we’d say, “Oh! They Homered!”
So, the Israelites were homering; freaking out and about ready to run amok in the wrong direction: back into slavery and captivity; probably even to death. I think of Moses standing there trying to calm them when he says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still!” Don’t wig out! Don’t make any rash decisions! Have faith! Don’t worry!
I know this verse resonated with me because, in the face of adversity, trouble, difficulties, fears, struggles; I tended to immediately do two things: 1. Freak out or worry (or some other unfortunate emotion) and 2. “OCD” the situation; take charge, write a ca-zillion to do lists, and try to get everyone else to do what I think is best.
“Keep still!” How often are there references to being still in scripture? Just sitting here this very second, two more popped into my head; Psalm 37:7 and Psalm 46:10 (you can look them up J )Yet, this does not mean the brainless frozen immobility of a person “Homering”; but a trustful, watchful, waiting expectance that God is there in the moment with us, fighting for us in ways that we may never fully understand, but we can be confident that He is. Sometimes, that very stillness brings discernment; a thought, an idea a nudge, settles in our mind saying, “This is the way, walk in it!” Isaiah 30:21(b).
Although I find peace and comfort knowing that I don’t have to freak out and take immediate control and responsibility for a situation; that God is there, acting as my undercover redeemer, I also know my next step (and, of course, there does eventually have to be a next step) can be taken confidently, with God’s guidance and instruction.
Back to the Israelites. Soon after Moses got their attention, guess what? God stepped in and took control. With Moses as the means, He prepared a way for the Israelites to move safely forward, saying to them through Moses, “Ok, now it’s time to MOVE!”
And they did. And so should we, but only after we’ve kept still long enough to listen to the directions.