Monday, September 19, 2011

Be Still...

I always find it interesting how I can struggle and fight God over certain things for extended periods of time, and then at other times stumble across a different thing that’s quite profound (at least to me). I had a moment like that this weekend.

As the cares of life have piled on over the course of the last few months, I’ve dealt with them in my own special way. This of course, isn’t always the best or most pleasant way for everyone involved. However, this weekend I found myself sitting on the couch of a friend.

Just sitting.

She didn’t push me to talk, and for a while I didn’t want to. All I wanted was to exist somewhere; to sit and be still. It was beautiful. Those were the most peaceful moments I have had in months. She gave me such a gift in providing that, and it was on her couch that I really began to understand God’s commandment to “be still.”

There are a couple of times in the bible God commands his people to “Be still” and “know that I am God,” to “stand in awe” of him, to “wait” for him, and to receive “rest” in him. A lot of times I feel people equate these commands with prayer, that to be still means that one must be in prayer with God (a quiet time, if you will). I don’t think that’s true. I wasn’t praying, but I felt closer to God in just sitting on a coach than I have in a long time.

In fact there are a couple of versus that I believe state just as much in different words. Psalm 37:7 calls us to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” Exodus 14:14 tell us “the Lord will fight for you; you have only to be still.” Be still and wait. That is all.

We don’t have to pray while we’re being still. We don’t need to be looking for some divine revelation. There’s no promise that we’ll understand what’s going on anyway, Job never did. We don’t need to be asking for strength; Jesus already promises us that he is our strength.

Now I’m not saying we should never pray when things get hard. I think there are certainly times where a prayer for clarification or wisdom or strength is exactly what’s needed. However, I think sometimes we default on that course of action and forget that there is also a time to just be still and quiet before the Lord. As Ecclesiastes 3 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven…” Sure there is a time to pray, but note what vs. 9 says. There is also “a time to be silent.”

This verse could be interpreted in a couple different ways. The context of the verse would seem to point toward physical speech. However, there are many times in the bible where God uses the word “quite” to mean “still.” Personally, I think a case could be made for that interpretation. The point is, don’t quit praying during hard times, but remember there are situations in which we are called to a different course of action, or no action at all.

Psalm 23 talks about how the Lord our shepherd leads us to “still” waters, a place where we can rest without worry. There are other versus that associate stillness and quietness with God’s peace. I think that’s important to note because it shows us that being still is equated with being at rest and peace in God’s presence. Does that mean just sitting still in a room is going to make the pain go away? Of course not, but sometimes it will be the most comforting thing you do. It will be more comforting than anything anyone can say to you, or any prayer you can pray.

I challenge you to try to be still in God’s presence. Just to be still. When you are at a place where you don’t know what to do, when someone asks you how you feel and the only thing you can say is, “I don’t know,” try it.

I came across a psalm that I feel has great application to this idea and I will close with it.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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