We live in a world of two extremes. On one side, people are constantly doing. They work and think and strive for their own personal gain. On the other side, there is an epidemic of people who are given to laziness. The Bible has scores of verses on laziness, and it is undeniably sin. Diligence and hard work are a very necessary part of a Believer’s life, but they are not for our own personal gain; they are for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. The Bible also talks about something that goes hand-in-hand with diligence and is very different from laziness; it is called stillness. And, it is absolutely critical in our pursuit of knowing and loving Jesus.
Psalm 46:10a is a verse you have probably heard before: “Be still and know that I am God…” This is in reference to what Moses told the people of Israel in Exodus 14. They had just left Egypt and were encamped by the Red Sea. The Pharaoh was pursuing them with his army to bring them back to Egypt; the Israelites were panicking, and this is what Moses said to them, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent (vv 13-14).” Wow, what a statement! Here they were, trapped between a body of water and an army of soldiers ready to take them back into captivity. What would the natural instinct be? For some, it would be to do whatever they could to fight back, and for others it would be to simply give up hope. But what was the command? To be still, and watch what the Lord was going to do. And true to His word, the Lord displayed his power by parting the sea, and after the Israelites passed through on dry land, the sea closed in over the Egyptians, never to be seen again.
As Christians, we are called to live lives that display the power and glory and majesty of God. We have been freed from the power of sin, and are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live supernaturally – in a way that unbelievers cannot.
Take this scenario: It’s a fairly normal day – nothing out of the ordinary is going on. And then, you receive news to that completely changes the course of your day. Maybe it’s that there are insufficient funds in your account, or that the venue for the event you’ve been planning can no longer take you … two days before the event! Maybe it’s something worse than that; you’ve lost your job, or a family member is seriously ill. What is the response? As a Christian, it should always be one founded upon unwavering calm and unshakeable trust in the Lord. But sadly, all too often we respond in a manner that does not display the life of Christ within us. Our natural reaction of anxiety or hopelessness overtakes us, and we look back on it, wishing we had responded very differently.
So, how is it that we cultivate this kind of resolutely peaceful and trusting countenance? The answer is being with God in stillness; removing distractions and fully focusing on Him, allowing Him to reveal more of Himself to you through His Word and through prayer. Some religions practice a skewed form of this, in which they “meditate” to clear the mind of all things. As a Believer, the reason we are to be still and remove distraction is not to totally empty our minds, but to fill our minds with Him in order to know Him more.
This is easier said than done. There are countless distractions we encounter daily from the moment we open our eyes: emails to write, phone calls to make, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, meals to make … then there are other ones like the Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media sites, as well as television shows and movies. If we choose to turn to any of these first instead of to God, we have made them our idols. And when our focus is on them instead of God, we become anxious and discontent and lazy. We have to deliberately choose to put God first, spending time with Him in order to know His heart and to love Him more.
It is always good to begin the day with this kind of focus, because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. When we have that undistracted time with God first, as other situations arise throughout that day that could potentially cause panic or frustration, we are more prepared to turn to Him for the strength and wisdom we need to walk through it in a way that glorifies Him.
I recently experienced this first hand. I had woken early and spent a very precious, undistracted time with the Lord. Later that morning, I received an email that immediately caused me to feel somewhat panicky. My mind began hastily thinking up a response. But shortly into this line of thinking and a realization washed over me: I needed to still my anxious heart and mind and lay this before the Lord. I took my hands away from the keyboard, and prayed that the Lord would give me wisdom and peace, and that this email would be composed in a manner that was pleasing to Him. When I went back to writing, there was no longer turmoil, but clarity and calm. I sent the response knowing that it was honoring the Lord.
It’s interesting, but I have heard and read more and more of non-Christians realizing the benefits of taking time in the day to remove distraction and simply be still. They recognize that this helps them become more productive, successful, sharp, and ready for the stresses of the day. It goes far beyond this for a Christian. Yes, He promises in Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” But It is not ultimately for our well-being or success that we come before God in stillness and quietness of heart and mind: it is so that His beauty and glory and majesty will grow brighter and brighter before us, and that we will be ready to boldly proclaim His love to this world that so desperately needs Him. So, dear sisters, join me and “Be still and know that [He is] God.”