What It Really Means to Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10

All right, I admit it. I have hit my meandering stage. The “me” who used to be throw-caution-to-the-winds, drive pedal-to-the-metal, hit a smooooth 80 on the straight stretches—where did she go? I believe I must have slammed head first into the slow lane.

I remember hitting an easy groove once, with an eighteen wheeler following right behind me. Sun roof wide open.  Setting the pace for anyone who wanted to r-e-a-l-l-y drive. Flipping through curves, zipping in and out of the slower traffic (undoubtedly, those were the meanderers!).  And I did it so skillfully that the trucker trailing me honked when our paths separated. He gave me an obvious “that was fun” kind of wave.

My Uncle Andy knew how to enjoy the moment.  He drove from Ohio to Wisconsin to visit us one summer. That’s about 450 miles and he did it without ever touching an interstate highway.  All the way—through small towns, past farms and waving villagers. Uncle Andy meandered for 450 miles. Back then, it seemed to me like a potentially incredible waste of perfectly good travel time. Now, I get it. How classy. How sensible.  Missing nothing.  Absorbing everything.

You neglect so much when you never amble, whether on foot or behind the wheel.  When we walk or run, we’re embarrassed to achieve less than an x.8 minute mile (you pick whatever number it is that fits you.)  At the gym, I glance down at the row of people on treadmills near me and ramp up to something that resembles their speed, even if I am about to propel myself over the control panel.

In this song of David quoted above, God commands us to just slow down a minute. Otherwise, you miss His divinity. Really, when you analyze it, rushing around in a tizzy is so irrational. We rush, then we are forced to take medication to calm us down.

Just for a moment now, stand still. Shut your mouth (I didn’t mean that to sound rude…just be quiet).  Consider His Almightiness. Focus on the magnitude of Who you have working on your behalf.  Quiet your thoughts.  Calm and quietness are qualities that must be cultivated.

Stop careening down the road of life at top speed. Don’t miss the wonder of what God is accomplishing in your life by rushing, pell mell, right past it.  There are wonders all around us that we miss because we are in such a silly hurry.

First, be still. Then, know Who you’re waiting for in the midst of that quiet moment. I can promise you, something wondrous will happen next.

The book of Exodus presents one of God’s greatest promises of His presence.  In verses 18-23 of chapter 33, there is a pivotal exchange between God and Moses. What a great conversation!  Moses said, “God, you told me to bring these people up here but I’m not sure I know where I’m going and even who you are. If you don’t go with us, I don’t want to go a step farther.” God said: “I know you by name.” Moses pressed for more, “Then I want to see your glory.” God said, “If you see my face, you will die. I will hide you in the rock and let you see my back when I pass by.”

Today I am like Moses. I want to pause long enough for a quick reassurance of Who is with me. I want to see just a little bit of His glory.  If we ask, He will allow a glimpse of His splendor to pass by us, as He hides us in the cleft of a rock and covers us with His hand. (Exodus 33:18-23)

What Are You So Anxious About?


D
o not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~

Philippians 4:6 (New International Version)

Anxiety!  It appears to be a commonly accepted illness of our age. Everyone is anxious. Or, at least, everyone has anxious moments. We are nervous, we are worried. We are concerned about everything. We fret. We’re fearful. We choke up, feel nauseated, get migraines and can’t sleep…all because of some very real (or imaginary and anticipated) troubles.

The great psalmist, David, must have been intensely familiar with anxiety. In writing the 139th Psalm, he expressed the assurance that God saw him, knew where he was and knew everything he was going through. David acknowledged the certainty of God’s presence.  To paraphrase, he said:  “If I am up high or down low, asleep or awake, in darkness or in the brightness of day, God, you are there.” But, in that same poetic expression, he pleaded words that can only come from a troubled heart.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ~ Psalm 139:23 (NIV)

I have not completely escaped this malady. Today, I am taking my own medicine. I can imagine wild disappointments. Thankfully, most never materialize.  I have those moments, when I woefully predict, like Job:

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.~ Job 3:25 (NIV)

In those times, you must make a conscious effort to trade anxiety for peace. There is a peace of God which passes all understanding. And it is available, just for the asking. Next time you feel yourself drifting into one of those moody, hand-wringing moments, stop and remember your past victories. Yesterday’s fears never came.  Speak words of peace and calm to yourself. Make a list of your favorite scriptures for joy, victory and peace.

Replacing negative thoughts must be an aggressive strategy. The Word of God gives us tremendous coping skills. If you take the Word, like medicine, your joy and peace always win!

You Are Relational

Black Man on Beach with Open Arms

When you look into someone’s face, do you see the real presence of the person you encounter?  Do you understanding our connectedness.

You are relational!  You are connected to others.  You are not a separate entity, traveling through life on your own.  Wrapped up in your own identity. Engulfed in your own little world.  So often, we get caught up in the “me” and “mine” of life—my money, my job, my family, my issues.

The dictionary definition of the word “relational” is this:

          Concerning the way in which two or more people or things are connected.

Last Saturday, the men’s ministry in our church hosted a prayer breakfast. We gathered at individual tables;  after sharing pleasantries, we got down to the business of discussing the assigned topics.  Near the end of the teaching period, each person shared a brief prayer with the entire audience.  As we went around from table to table, the room was electrified by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It was as if someone opened a window to let us peer into the life of the person sitting nearby.  We had a personal glimpse of private conversations with God.

A mother spoke of the imminent challenge facing her son—returning home in a few hours after twenty-five years of incarceration.  A young woman sought Divine direction in meeting the mate God designed for her.

We are connected to one another, even our enemies.  For years, I told myself I had no enemies.  That was all right; even when I discovered I was wrong, it didn’t matter.  When you can tolerate being injured by a person and not resent them for it, you become a stronger person.

When we understand that we are relational, we choose not to react to or get sucked into anyone else’s anger, resentment or hatred.  Otherwise, you wreck your immune system.  Being reactive results in inner dis-ease. You cannot become internally angry about a situation without making yourself ill.

Being conscious of our connectivity doesn’t make you vulnerable, it makes you powerful.  You can become immune to negative energy.  Nothing can hurt you; you reserve that power for sharing love. Transmitting love and joy may not change how others feel about you, but it sucks the negative energy out of your reaction.

Experiencing everyday joy means opening your eyes to those around you to see your coworkers, casual acquaintances, friends, family members. Learned joy is caring enough to understand the challenges others are facing and what is going on in their lives.

There is even scientific evidence that life connects us and that we affect one other. You are an eternal soul, encased in a temporary body. The energy that I want to transmit is that of healing, connection, communication and compassion.

That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ,

as well as part of one another.  ~  Romans 12:5 (Contemporary English Version)