Don’t Just Do Something; Stand There

But those who wait for Yahweh’s grace
    will experience divine strength.
    They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles,
    run their race without growing weary,
    and walk through life without giving up. 

(Isaiah 40:31)

I have a confession.  There are times when I want to do something to shake things up because I’m dissatisfied and frustrated with how things are.  Sometimes its people I want to shake.  More often than not, the urge is to react to problematic states of existence that have no tangible or fixed centers.  Nevertheless, these things are irritants like swarms of gnats that buzz around my head and follow me wherever I go.  The difference is that I can escape the gnats.  The stuff I’m talking about is stuff I can’t get away from.  Most days, my adaptive ability enables me to ignore these feelings or push them aside…but then there are the days when I’m enveloped by them and want/need to do something!  I know these feelings aren’t unique to me; I’ve spoken to too many people to believe that.

For as long as I can remember, a popular response to unsatisfying, disruptive and otherwise negative circumstances has been, “Don’t just stand there, do something!”  Be decisive.  Take action.  I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere along the line, “Any action is better than no action, even if its wrong.”  I never quite got the logic of that.  Still, it’s a mantra for some.

The desire to take action is what I often feel the urge for, swift, direct, decisive action.  Then the questions become, “what actions” and “directed toward what issues?”  I don’t want to be out there flailing at the wind in frustration or emoting my own version of the primal scream, nor do I want to be less gracious than the grace I have received.  What to do?  What shall I do?

Did you ever consider the fact that commandments are for a designated audience: those who have chosen or have been chosen to serve.  They are the only ones who obey commands.  Think about who gives commands: leaders invested with the authority to command.  The commands they give only apply to the people who are under their authority.  Everyone else goes their own way and does whatever they want to do.

As one who chose to serve and who was later called to serve even beyond anything I ever anticipated (I’m still scratching my head over it), I can’t make up responses to life’s challenges from whatever list of options I prefer; there are commands I have been given.  As the Roman Centurion said to a pleased Jesus, “I am a man under authority” (Matt. 8:9).

And so, I step back and pull out my orders and remind myself of what they say.  Here’s a sample pack of ten:

  1. Love GOD…Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37
  2. Love my neighbor…Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39
  3. Do not allow anger to lead to sin…Psalm 37:8
  4. Be still and know that He is GOD…Psalm 46:10
  5. Trust in the Lord…Proverbs 3:5-6
  6. Wait on the Lord…Isaiah 40:31
  7. Believe in Jesus…John 11:25
  8. Be unified with the Son and the Father…John 17:21
  9. Wear my soldier’s armor… Ephesians 6:10-17
  10. Cast all my cares on GOD…1 Peter 5:7

Although my enlistment is lifetime and full-time, it’s often very tempting to go off-script and do and say something that I would hope would shake things up.  What I’ve discovered, however, is following the commands calms my emotions, instills greater discipline, opens-up avenues of grace, imparts wisdom and creates pathways not previously evident or existing. And there’s the added benefit of not having to explain why I ignored a command.

Don’t just do something; stand there may appear passive to some, particularly when the irritants are like swarms of gnats that you can’t rid yourself of.  But if the purpose of standing there enables the voice of GOD to come through all the more clear because His is not blocked by our felt need to do something, then it is the right stance.  Who knows, He may just say, “Here’s what I want you to do.”  He’s done it plenty of times before.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2020.  All rights reserved to text content.    

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