Most of us would equate standing around with inactivity. There we are, just standing there. It could be in a line, at the mall, in our homes, or out in the woods. By all appearances we are not doing anything, just standing there. Maybe we’re leaning on a rake, resting from cleaning up leaves. Or perhaps we’re leaning on a shopping cart and pondering which jar of mayonnaise is the best buy. It doesn’t really matter the moment or the place but standing around looks like we’re doing nothing.
There’s a lot of action commands in the Bible, go, preach, forgive, love, be, and walk to name a few. There are also two commands that seem to invite inactivity; wait as in “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,” (Isaiah 40:31) and stand as in “having done everything to stand, stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13) Wait and stand do seem, well, lazy. Like we’ve just decided to do nothing.
The Biblical reality is that waiting and standing are active. They are doing something. Take waiting for an example. I’ve heard a few folks relate waiting to that of serving others. As in a waiter at a fine restaurant. The “wait” in Isaiah is not service but waiting with expectation and hope for something. It would be like a child that has been promised a special day. They are anxious and eager for the day to finally arrive. Like a 16-year-old finally being able to get their driver’s license. It seems inactive but it’s not. To wait on the Lord means to anchor all of our hope for the future on Him. Let Him bring it about in His good and perfect timing. Then when that day arrives, having waited, we will find renewed strength to go and do.
Standing is also active and not passive. The context of Ephesians 6 is that of the battle and the armor of God. The picture is that of a soldier, dug in and alert to repulse the attack. While it is defensive in posture it is far from inactive. There is a necessary watchfulness.
We live in deer country. At any time a white-tail deer may decide to run onto the road, especially during the fall when the farmers are in the fields and the hunters are in the woods. Wise drivers develop a habit of scanning, especially at twilight, looking for the telltale glow of their eyes. That’s the kind of watchfulness standing firm requires. You never know when and where the enemy of our souls will strike. Standing firm is a stance of preparedness, we are ready to turn back the enemy, not in our own strength, but by relying on the grace of God described in each piece of the armor. Secure in salvation, covered in righteousness, firm in the truth, walking out the gospel of peace, grasping faith, and practiced in the Word of God. And where does our battle take place? In our times of prayer.
Right after Paul advises us to stand firm and put on the armor of God he says, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18, NASB95) Prayer may also seem like we are doing nothing. God has not called and equipped us to whine and complain about all that is wrong in our world. The Israelites tried that with Moses; God wasn’t happy about it. Whether it is the world, in general, that seems to be falling apart or your world in particular, instead of complaining about it is time to wait on the Lord, stand firm against the enemy, and pray with all prayer, at all times, in the Spirit, with perseverance and intercession for all the saints. It may seem like we are doing nothing, just waiting, just standing, just praying. By doing these things that seem passive we are actively walking out our faith in Jesus Christ and waging war in ways that we can’t even imagine.