“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (Complete Jewish Bible) Many of us are not good at “being still”. To be still means we quiet the mind and spirit and sit before God and allow His love and peace to wash over us, renewing us.
When was the last time you tried to be still? I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s nearly impossible for me to quiet the noise of the world. There are too many distractions; family responsibilities, job, church, societal demands, all vying for our attention. Couple all of that with the ills of the world we live in and we get worn down, used up, we feel helpless, hopeless, and empty. Sometimes just waking up in the morning and dragging ourselves through our day is a challenge. Many fight depression, take medications to lift their spirits, turn to alcohol, try myriad remedies to distract themselves from feelings of failure. Some of us purposefully fill our lives with so many activities that we don’t have time to deal with the nagging thoughts that we don’t measure up, that we have missed the mark, have irreparably messed up our lives.
And therein lies the problem; we try to do everything ourselves. Time with God often takes a backseat to all of our other obligations, a quick prayer here and there. Some of us are more successful at scheduling a morning devotional time, but even that can feel like wrestling with the ills of our world, personally and globally. There are too many needs, people to prayer for, situations that need God’s intervention, and pretty soon the “still” part is lost in the noise. Our spirit becomes restless, unsure that God hears our prayers, sees our struggle, understands the in’s and out’s of our trials and tribulations; all because we cannot be still and know.
God’s world and ideals are very different than ours. We are taught to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when the chips are down, become a self-made person, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and we will miss the blessings if we don’t take initiative to move the mountains in our way. Even if we believe God is in control, we don’t live as if that were true. Why? Because our focus is wrong. Some of us focus on the problem instead of knowing the solution is in God’s hands and plan. Others focus on the prize, the outcome, instead of the One who can move heaven and earth on our behalf. God says, “be still…..and…..know”.
Like many phrases in the Bible the “be still and know” is a coordinate imperative; a kind of if, then. Put another way the coordinate imperatives demonstrate a condition with the resultant consequence. Be still is the condition we are to assume; the consequence will be that we will recognize God as the all-sufficient One.
Our part sounds easy, but it is not as easy as it seems! To be still means we need to stop striving for, well, everything and realize that we have little control over most everything in our lives; that our security, every breath we breathe, every day we inhabit planet earth, is in His hands. We are admitting our weakness in the midst of His strength. The self-made-man attitude must fall away, we need to give up the thought that somehow our puny efforts result in any security we believe we have outside of God.
To be still and KNOW that He is God is to accept the assurance that I am loved, I am engraved on His hand, that I am on His mind every minute of every day. I don’t need to “do” anything to gain God’s acceptance, I can sit still before Him and drink in His love, His comfort, His guidance, His peace, His rest, His wisdom. To be still and KNOW that He is God is to embrace and internalize that our spirits are intertwined and I don’t fight battles, face trials, or overcome challenges alone.
Find a quiet place away from the noise of the world and close your eyes. Quiet your mind, breathe in deeply, and let the breath out slowly. Feel your body relax. Release your thoughts, your worries, your struggles. Allow His spirit to flow over, around and through your being, let His peace wash away the doubts and fears of not measuring up, because the reality is that you are a creation of the Creator, loved beyond measure for that fact alone; not for your accomplishments, your accumulated wealth or wisdom, not for your works. You are loved in spite of your past, what you screwed up yesterday, or today, in spite of all your flaws and imperfections.
Be still and KNOW that He is God and in His eyes you have not failed. His mercies are renewed every day and we wake each day to a new opportunity to get it right, to walk more closely with Him, to forgive and be forgiven.
I heard a story once that stuck with me. In the midst of the ocean a storm was raging; the waves crashing and receding with a frightening strength and furious majesty. In the middle of the ocean, far from land, a rock jutted skyward above the waves. Within the rock was a hole, a shallow cave of sorts. A dove sat calmly in the shallow cave, cold, razor-sharp raindrops pelted the rock, the waves threatening to bury the rock and flood the tiny refuge. All around the tiny dove and as far as the eye could see there was turmoil, yet the dove nestled down in the shallow cave that God had provided in the midst of the storm, confident that when the storm passed he would be fine. That, my friends, is the ultimate picture of peace, of being still and knowing, of trusting God.
You see, the ability to be still and know that He is God is to fully trust in the throes of any situation or circumstance life tosses our way. Stuff happens in life, does it not? Let go and let God is a statement one hears frequently in Christian circles; it is not as trite a statement as it may seem. The meaning of the statement is centered within the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know…”
Where is your place of refuge and peace where you can let go and let God, where you can be still and know? I picture myself in the cave with the dove. My place of peace is the ocean; the ocean is at the same time a peaceful and frightening place, but it is where I am closest to God, able to drink in and fill myself up with His majesty and His power. The place where I can at the same time be in awe of Him and humbled by Him. The place where I can fully surrender my cares, my worries, the burdens of this life and let them be washed away by the waves that ebb and flow. The place where I am most aware that I am in control of little in my life, yet I can trust everything to His care. If you have not ever experienced letting go, experienced being still and knowing, I encourage you to do so. Find your space and place to be still…..