Life is full, and this is a busy season. I am a full time mom, I have a part time job, and several ministry commitments that I love, which bring me life and relationship and value. I am a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, welcomer, teacher, advisor, mentor, hostess, includer, helper, and when I feel like it, housekeeper. All of those things take time and energy, each with their own separate to-do list.
It’s so easy to run from the moment I wake up until I finally get to fall back into bed at night. So tempting to be moving, thinking, planning, checking things off those lists from morning until night. And y’all? I love checking things off of a list.
But when do I breathe? When do I think? When do I rest? When is it enough just to be, rather than always to doing, doing, doing?
What would happen if I slowed down, if I stopped? What would happen if I chose to be still?
And what does it say about me when I can’t?
“Be still, and know that I am God…”
I hear the call, the invitation to stillness, but how do I practice this?
I’ve been doing (mostly) daily “quiet time” for nearly my entire adult life. I love devotional practices, I love reading and studying God’s Word, journaling, praying words. But even this “quiet time” tends toward rather than stillness.
Over the past year or so I’ve been experimenting with something called “contemplative prayer.” That means sitting in stillness, just being with God. It’s practiced in a variety of ways, though to be honest, none of them have “worked” for me. It is hard to quiet my mind, to be still. But more and more I am realizing that stillness is something I need, something worth practicing.
And I remember that “Be still, and know that I am God…” is only the beginning of the invitation. Be still and know is just one phrase from a verse, separated from the end of the sentence, from the rest of the Psalm.
So each morning, I try again. I sit down. I empty my hands. I quiet my mind (as much as possible.) I let go of all my to do lists, my agenda, my requests and plans and words. I sit still.
And I know that God is God. And I know that He will be exalted among the nations and He will be exalted in the earth. He is my refuge and strength, ever present to help me.
Whether I am still or busy. Whether I succeed or fail. Whether I can or I can’t. Whether I’m enough or not. Whether things work out as I hope and plan, or not.
I can let go of my to do lists, my agendas, my need to be busy. Because I have a God. I have a refuge. I have a source of safety and strength, even of gladness.
I can rest – even just for a moment – because I know He is God. He will be exalted among the nations, He will be exalted on the earth.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46)