By Standing Still, We Go Forward

By Warren Wiersbe

A university professor was meeting a famous Chinese lecturer in a crowded train station. After welcoming him, the professor said, “If we run to our gate, we can get the next train and save three minutes.” The guest quietly asked, “And what significant thing shall we do with the three minutes that we are saving?”

Yes, there are times in the Christian life when we must hurry; but the success of our occasional running depends on the success of our consistent daily resting, exercising, and eating.

There are at least four important lessons we must learn if we are to move forward effectively day by day, serving our Lord Jesus Christ but not running a ridiculous race.

We must learn to be still

The Father wants us to cultivate a quiet heart, but why? Because the heart of every problem is the problem in the heart.1

Jesus warned, “No servant can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13). A divided heart is a disobedient heart and therefore a disturbed heart that enjoys no peace. If we are sincerely following Jesus, He will see to it that we enjoy the still waters (Ps 23:2).

In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus invites weary and worried people to come to him for rest. When we trust him for salvation, he gives us rest, what Paul calls “peace with God” (Rom 5:1). When we yield our all to him day by day, we grow in our knowledge of him and find a deeper rest, the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7).

Being human, we will experience difficult days when nothing seems to work out as it should. Living by our feelings is a treacherous thing and destroys living by faith. If the heart is disturbed, the will may be paralyzed and we may find it difficult to “serve the LORD with gladness” (Ps 100:2).

We must learn to sit still

The French philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) wrote, “All the troubles of men are caused by one single thing, which is their inability to stay quietly in a room.”

One of the frequently repeated questions in Scripture is, “How long?” Abraham and Sarah waited twenty-five years for their promised son to be born, and when they tried to hasten things, they got themselves and the nation of Israel into trouble. Moses was eighty years old before the Lord told him to return to Egypt and deliver his people. Our Lord Jesus Christ waited thirty years before launching into His public ministry. There is a time to work and there is a time to wait, and we must know the difference.

As we wait on the Lord, it may seem to us a waste of time; but we must realize that the Lord is not only working for us but working in us. He wants us to be adequately prepared to do the work He is preparing for us (Phil 1:6). If we start taking shortcuts and avoiding the necessary disciplines of the Christian life, we will not be able to fight the battles, carry the burdens, and glorify the Lord.

We must learn to stand still

“Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exod 14:13). Moses spoke those heartening words to the children of Israel on the night they were released from Egyptian bondage. The Red Sea was before them, the Egyptian army was pursuing them, and there was no place to escape and hide. It looked like certain annihilation but for one thing: God was on the side of the Israelites! Moses shouted. “The LORD will fight for you and you shall hold your peace” (Exod 14:14). The Israelites were to “be still” and “stand still” and trust God to do the rest.

The American inventor Thomas A. Edison wisely said, “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.” How do you hustle and wait at the same time? You are “on the move” inwardly, learning, trusting, and growing, but waiting outwardly for God to work out His plan. “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. . . . Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps 37:5, 7).

We must learn to lie still

A night of healthy sleep is a gift from God, while a restless night can lead to a distressful day. It is not enough for us to learn to be still and sit still and stand still. We must also learn to lie still and experience the healing rest of heaven after a busy day. To toss and turn all night because something is bothering us is to rob ourselves of the blessings God wants to give us.

I visited a hospital patient who said, “I just could not get to sleep last night. Then I remembered the verse that says God neither slumbers nor sleeps, and I decided it was foolish for both of us to stay awake—so I turned over and went to sleep.” Do not waste time counting sheep. Instead, keep in touch with the Shepherd who never goes to sleep!

This post is adapted from “Paradox 6: By Standing Still, We Go Forward” in Truth on Its Head: Unusual Wisdom in the Paradoxes of the Bible by Warren Wiersbe (Lexham Press, 2016).

  1. This is an adaptation of a quote attributed to Oswald J. Smith, “The heart of the human problem, is the problem of the human heart.”

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