Be Still and Know
Today’s Truth In him we live and move and have our being, (Acts 17:28 NIV).
Friend to Friend (I posted this devotion a few months ago, but wanted to post it again as you head into the crazy holiday season. Here we go!)
I pressed the send button on my latest manuscript, What God Really Thinks about Women. For twelve months I had spent night and day with Jesus and the women he encountered while he walked the earth. I was going to miss them. Miss walking in their sandals. Miss breathing their air. Miss crying their tears. Miss carrying their water jugs. And while I wasn’t going to be in their lives and in their business every day, their imagined faces were etched in my mind and they had become part of me for eternity. But it was time to move on.
I grabbed a cup of coffee, snuggled up in my favorite overstuffed den chair, and opened my Bible in my lap. “OK, God,” I began, “that project is finished and tied securely with a bow. So what do you want me to do now?”
I wondered if I should get into a Bible study group, take a class at the local seminary, or finally write those magazine articles I had been putting off. Should I start a small group, volunteer at a charity, or start a new book project? I asked the question and waited.
God surprised me. Acts 17:28 came to my mind. I believed He put it there. In him we live and move and have our being. Learn what that means, He seemed to say. Let’s just spend time together. No agenda. No goal. No deadlines. I want to rekindle the romance. Will you let me?
His answer startled me. I hadn’t even realized the fire had died down. Wasn’t I working for Him? Wasn’t I doing God’s will? Wasn’t I busy about my Father’s business? And then I began to see what He meant. He began turning the lens of my mind’s camera and the fuzzy image grew clear. I wondered how I had missed it before. In the middle of all my busyness for God, I had neglected my relationship with God.
I was made for goals, or so I thought. Sitting still wasn’t in my nature, and perhaps that was what God was trying to tell me. My “nature” or natural bent of work was standing in the way of worship. My natural bent of activity for God was getting in the way of my communion with God. My daily routine of sanctioned quiet times was getting in the way of divine romance in which He wanted me to engage.
Like the men caught on the stormy Sea of Galilee, I felt I had been reeling in the waves for years – never in danger of truly sinking – just reeling from one rolling wave of work and deadlines to the next. But on this particular morning, I began to see the cast of characters in this Galilean scene in a different light. I was definitely in the scene, but I wasn’t in the boat at all. I was the storm.
I love how Eugene Peterson describes Jesus’ words to the wind and the waves as his friend stirred him from his sleep to calm the squall: “’Quiet! Settle down!’” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass.”(Mark 5:39 The Message).
What does God really want from me? I’ve pondered that question since the day I first came to Christ. It was one of the two questions Saul asked when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus: “Who are you? What shall I do? (Acts 22:8,10).
I think I’ve made my relationship with Jesus far too difficult. I have spent so much time striving to get closer to the heart of God. And all the while God has been whispering to me, “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NASB). “It’s not that hard. Settle down. Be quiet.”
And that is what Jesus was telling me that frosty January morning. But I realized I didn’t really know how to be quiet and settle down. I had never mastered the idea of “be still and know.” I knew that God was God. It was the “be still” part that stumped me every time. Now don’t get me wrong. I can be still for a few minutes, maybe even an hour if need be. But much longer than that and I’m undone. Restless spirit syndrome begins to shake my soul, and the urge to get up and get moving wrestles me from worship.
So on this January morning, as I share this with you, I’m asking…will you be still and know that He is God with me? For a moment?
God had a lot to show me in the year that followed that frosty morning. I’ve shared a lot of what I learned as we’ve gone through the year together. As we head into the next few busy weeks of the holiday, I just wanted to remind you once again…be still.
Let’s Pray Dear Lord, Help me to learn what it means to live and move and have my being in You. Thank You for a New Year. I am excited to see what You have in store. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.