All I could do was stand at a distance. My wife had been in labor all day, and for the past two hours had pushed like a champion to no avail. Never had I seen her so exhausted physically or emotionally. I kept hoping and praying that our little boy would come on out and meet our world, but he stayed put. Finally, the doctor called for a C-section. They quickly wheeled Tracey off to the operating room. Minutes later I stood and watched as doctors performed the procedure on my wife. An awesome sense of the fragility of life overcame me as I observed my dear wife and that precious child – both in the hands of the doctors. There was nothing I could do but watch and pray. So, I stood at a distance and witnessing the miraculous procedure. Finally, the nurse brought that big bundle of nine pounds and ten ounces over to me and plopped him in my arms. As tears streamed down my face, I thanked God for the help of someone better than I at delivering babies!
Experiencing God’s miracles at times calls us to stand at a distance. We like activity. Our natures thrive on doing something. But, as Henry Blackaby wrote, God may call us to not just do something but stand there.
Miriam faced such a situation. This famous sister of Moses models intercession in Exodus 2. Picture it. The need is severe. Pharaoh orders all of the Jewish baby boys to be murdered at birth. Under God’s protective care, Jochebed hides her baby Moses for three months. When circumstances demand other action, “when she could hide him no longer” (2:3), this Jewish mother hides her child in a wicker basket, setting this life-boat in the bank of the Nile river. Entrusting the boy’s survival to Elohim, she leaves Moses’ sister Miriam, who “stood at a distance to see what would happen to him” (4).
Providentially Pharaoh’s daughter arrives on the scene, walking along the Nile. She spots the basket, discovers baby Moses, and has pity on the child. Immediately Miriam steps forward, exclaiming, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” (7). The Egyptian princess responses positively, “Yes, go.” The baby is saved, grows up in the prestige of Pharaoh’s household, and God allows Jochebed to care for her child.
Experienced intercessors learn that many times God does not allow you to take any action in a situation that deeply concerns you. Maybe you have done all you know to do to help a loved one and God finally says to you, “Don’t do anything but pray.” You may have interest in a new job; you want to call your friends and try to manipulate the situation; but when you pray, God tells you to just stand there and trust him.
Faced by an enemy army, Jehoshaphat stands in the presence of the Lord. As he and his people cry out to God, the prophet speaks this word: “You will not have to fight in this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. . .o” (2 Chronicles 20:17). Later in the life of Moses, cornered by an Egyptian army and a sea (there’s a cul-de-sac of trouble), this man of God challenges the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
“Lord,” we say, “I don’t want to keep silent.” I want to speak up, take action, be productive!” But the gentle presence of God comes to us and says, “In quietness and in trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
The word stand, according to Webster’s New Dictionary, means “to take or be at rest in an upright or firm position” or “to be steadfast.” Faced with impossible situations, intercessors must learn to be at rest in the Lord as they stand and pray. The psalmist writes, “Be at rest once more, O my soul” (116:7), and challenges us to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him” (37:7; NASB). How can we do this? Because, as David writes, “On God my salvation and my glory rests” (62:7; NASB).
Miriam, watching the ripples of the Nile river rock her baby brother, entrusts his care to Almighty God while she stands at a distance. Just as one day her brother would be required by Jehovah to lay down his rod, his only source of protection in the desert, so Miriam and her mother have to lay down an impossible situation and their ability to solve the problem. God responds to their faith, and the rest is history.
What challenge in your life tempts you to push, yell, or manipulate circumstances? What person close to you do you want to fix? What impossibility evokes your desire to act when God says, “Rest and stand”? Run to the Lord. Pour out your heart before Him. Rest in His nature. And stand as an intercessor, committing the outcome to God. Who knows? God may end up plopping the baby down into your arms.