Being Still — An Old Challenge for a New Day – Exodus 14:14
I was recently invited to a regional rally for Johnson University on a Friday night. Anyone who knows the history of the campus would expect that there would be stories galore at an assembly of the alumni of the school. This night did not disappoint.
Among the alumni present was one Mary Beth, the daughter of a prominent professor of the school and a class president. Her class was 1975 or 1976. I do not recall the precise year, since I was among the underclassmen.
Mary Beth held forth with a story about prayer. As class president she was tapped by the administration to spearhead a prayer vigil for the school. It was not uncommon to have prayer vigils then. Some were conducted in small groups, and others were round the clock vigils stretching on for several days. I could recall how we would scramble to get a decent time, but don’t let me get started.
Mary Beth was charged with the responsibility of praying for the debt retirement for two new dormitories during a Fall prayer vigil. Prayer was the opportunity to step back, be still, and let God do the work of God. Mary Beth recounted that the answer followed in the early Spring. The debt was retired, the construction cost of the dorms was paid in full.
The prowess of my memory is a matter of debate. Some of my female friends may declare I have a short memory, and some students may argue the opposite; but I regress.
This recollection dates from about 1976. I was seated in the back of Alumni Memorial Chapel listening to Dr. Floyd Clark. As he led the singing he interjected his challenge, “Stop. Listen. Can you hear them? I can hear the angels. Can you?” We were then to go on singing one round and another of the chorus he had chosen with the expectation that we would hear angelic voices.
“White coral bells upon a slender stalk,
Lilies of the valley deck the garden walk.
Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring.
That will only happen when the angels sing.”
I cannot say that I did hear angels singing other than the angelic voices of the congregation. In the men’s dorm, Brown Hall, I could not find anyone who heard celestial angels that night. Nonetheless, the message was important. There are times when you must be still. In stillness you let God do the work of God.
I cannot say whether the students of the big university have yet come to understand the lesson. It was a lesson Moses knew time and again. Exodus 14:14 says, “the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”