My middle name is Tonea. It means stay here.
My parents gave me this name native to my birthplace, Liberia, because I was nearly miscarried early in my mother’s pregnancy. I guess they wanted to encourage me to stay here until the appropriate time of delivery.
It is a lesson I am also learning now.
Stay here. Stay still.
It feels like Jesus has been instructing me by my middle name in this season, where we are in the throes of birth pangs.
I can feel them.
But Jesus is saying – stay here. Stay still. It’s not the time of delivery.
If I were to simply survey the landscape of my life over the past 12 months, it has been a whirlwind. So much has happened.
There is movement all around me.
And yet Jesus’ instruction is to stay still.
I have this sense it is the most important instruction of my life.
But what does this mean exactly? How do we stay still when there is movement all around?
In these months of movement – moving jobs, moving homes, moving relationships – I am learning the sweet stillness found in the shadow of the Almighty. I am experiencing him cover me with his feathers and hiding me under his wings.
I am learning the promises of secret place dwelling.
When the Scripture speaks of dwelling in the shelter of the Most High and abiding in shadow of the Almighty, it is speaking in the context of a war.
And from that dwelling place, there is this promise hidden within Psalm 91: A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
These are the conditions and the promises of secret place dwelling.
There is glory, yes.
And there is beauty.
And, there is war.
With all of this movement surrounding us, the instruction to the believing heart is to stay still.
This one instruction is perhaps the most important of the Christian walk: to learn to hide ourselves in his shelter, under his wing, abiding in his shadow.
It is the secret of beholding the One who holds us.
Despite the movement around me, I stand still.
No matter the trial or the triumph, I remain still.
Until I hear his voice, I stay still.
And the promise of my Father is that I will – SEE.
In the stillness of secret place dwelling, my perception changes. I see with clarity all that is moving around me. And in that place of renewed sight, the Scripture tells us that we will see the salvation of the Lord.
Do you remember the story of King Jehoshaphat? It is one of my favorite illustrations of this instruction to stay still.
There is a vast army that is coming against King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. They are all terrified because their destruction is imminent.
Yet King Jehoshaphat postures himself to stand still.
How does he do this? He calls the people to fasting and prayer. As he does so, the promise of the Lord comes to this frightened king and to a fearful people:
“Stand still, hold your position and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” (2 Chron 20:17)
We do not wait idly, nor do we wait in vain.
We wait with expectation.
We stay still with our eyes fixed on Jesus.
I find such joy in this little instruction to stay still. It reveals the heart of our very loving heavenly Father. In the midst of a battle, he says your battle strategy is not to strive, but to stay still.
Everything in the kingdom of God is opposite to the kingdom of this world.
The Lord wins every victory on our behalf and then he hands us the prize (like we did something).
I’m beginning to understand that the prize isn’t so much for the victory won – that is, overcoming whatever the momentary hardship or battle may be in our lives – but the prize is in our learning to stay still with eyes fixed on Jesus.
Learning to live out our name – Christian, “little Christs.”
Learning to stay still, to remain with Jesus, to abide with him, to keep our eyes locked on him is all for one singular purpose: to become like the One that we are beholding.
So no matter my situation, no matter what good and glorious or turbulent thing is happening around me, I am simply staying still in the place of beholding that I may fulfill the purpose of Christ in my life – being conformed to his own likeness.
I am learning to live out my name.
Stay here. Stay still. We fix our eyes on Jesus.
Did you know that Unveiled has programs to help you "stay still", making room for God's presence, voice and calling in your life?