In the children’s story Mumsi Meets a Lion, a boy in Africa is sent on an errand by his parents and encounters a full-grown lion in his path. For years the grownups of his village had told the children if they ever came face to face with a lion they should never try to run away. “Don’t move; don’t breathe. And whatever you do, don’t run.” But none of the children thought they would ever need that advice since no one had seen a “simba” in the village for years. But Mumsi made the mistake of taking his time going to the neighboring village. It was nightfall before he got back on the path for home. Nighttime is when lions come out to hunt.

It goes against all our instincts not to run away in the face of danger. We think that is the first thing we should do and often it is. If you were in a burning building you would certainly need to get out as fast as you could. If you saw flood waters rising you would be wise to run to higher ground. But when lions see something start to run, they give chase. They take it as a challenge in the thrill of the hunt. That is why Mumsi’s parents repeated their instructions to him over and over: “Do not run!”

Our natural response to great danger is great fear. But the Lord tells His people many, many times, “Fear not,” “Be not afraid.” It would take you a long time to look up all the passages where He says that. We respond in fear when we fail to stop and remember that the Lord is our protector. There are two famous passages in which the Lord delivered His people without their fleeing from or fighting against their enemies. In Exodus 14:13 the Lord told His people, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” They had just been freed from slavery in Egypt, but Pharaoh had second thoughts about letting them go and sent his army after them. The Israelites were trapped, but the Lord had led them this way to show His glory by parting the sea so they could cross and then closing the waters to drown Pharaoh’s army. Their standing still and trusting the Lord led to their being rescued.

Another wonderful story of deliverance is in 2 Kings 7. The Syrians were threatening Israel and lying in wait to conquer them, but the prophet Elisha said the Syrians would be defeated without costing Israel a thing. Verses 6 and 7 tell us, “The Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, … even the noise of a great host: and they … arose and fled”!

The next time you are afraid and uncertain what to do, remember that the Lord is the guide and protector of His people. He wants His people to trust in Him and He hears their prayers for safety. Maybe, just like Mumsi, you’ll find that the best thing to do is to stand still.

To find out what happened to Mumsi, read Mumsi Meets a Lion by Kim Stegall, JourneyForth Books, 2008.