Thursday, September 17, 2015

3 Ways to Be Still and Know God

Psalm 37:7a - "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;" (ESV)
Psalm 46:10a - "Be still, and know that I am God." (ESV)


I have long struggled with these (and other similar) verses throughout the Bible; yet, I have longed to experience them in a greater measure than my struggles. Stillness, quiet, waiting, solitude - these are not words that most people would use to ever describe me. I am definite type-A, loud, fill the room and be the life of the party person. Yet, my soul withers so quickly and my spirit is quenched when I do not make space in my life for the still small voice of God.


I live in Southern California, am married with five kids, work in full-time ministry, volunteer at my church and have numerous hobbies and other activities. How in the world can I find the time to be still before the Lord? As challenging as it seems, I have learned over the years that the more busy my calendar might be, the more intentional I must be with being still. It sounds easy, simplistic and doable, right?


As a pastor, I know that a lot of things preach much easier than they might be applied. Tithing might preach well, but many times it is hard to write the check. Servanthood is a great topic to focus on and inspire others to be like Christ, but living out this life is challenging. Quieting our world in order to have intimate times in the presence of God resonates with each of us, but seems daunting to actually achieve. How often does the still lose out to the busy?


I am about to share what "works" for me and hope to encourage you. It seems ironic that I use verbs such as achieve and work in talking about being quiet, but that actually leads me to my first thought.

These verses are about "being", not "doing." We are not instructed to do still but rather simply to be still. This is not a task to accomplish, a tower to build, a checkbox to fill. This is so much deeper. It is a soulful, Spirit-led activity that echoes the chambers of my inner man and drowns out the noise and activity of the world around me. I must remember that God first asks me to be before He asks me to do. I am His child because of relationship, not accomplishment. I am called to participate relationally in the kingdom far sooner than to act on behalf of the kingdom. May I encourage you today to rest in the thought that God created you as a human being?


My second step in being still is to intentionally plan this time just as I would any other important activity in my life. My mornings begin with a cup of coffee (definite necessity!!) and some devotions. However, I have learned that being quiet cannot stop there. God designed us for Sabbath.

The rhythm of life is important and should not be ignored. I take time throughout the day to pause and reflect on God. I worship, pray, read, meditate, etc. While each of these are activities, the intention behind them is to cause me to be still and know the Lord. While some activities have a time to be fulfilled, many are just the result of living out my day. I am slowly learning to be okay with less activity. This grates against my nature, but it refreshes and fulfills my soul. I can go on a short walk, leave the office to press pause, and sometimes just put my head down right where I am. This has been a lifetime of learning and I still have a ways to go, but my final thought seems to be the cherry on top.


I have learned that it is actually okay to say "NO!" I know, I know...it seems very un-Christian to not be available for every good opportunity to serve, lead, attend, etc. We have been conditioned in our Western Christianity that true servants of God are busy. I used to believe that, but have struggled finding much biblical support.          


Instead, I see that God calls us to a daily rhythm in His presence...a dance if you will. The only way that I can experience the great things God has in store for me is to say no to the good things that others have in store for me. Enjoy the permission that "no" provides. It is refreshing and exhilarating and fun! I admit that it was daunting at first, but now it comes more naturally.


I cannot go long without being still before the Lord. My human nature wants to be busy, noisy and noticed. My soul wants to be quiet, still and refreshed. I wonder if you are similar to me in this respect...and if so, which will you listen to?


Dear Lord, my soul longs for You. I desire to be in Your presence, to sense Your Spirit every moment of the day. I want to begin and end my day with You. Help me to say "no" to anything that would interfere with the rhythm You have designed for me. Thank You for loving me, embracing me and calling me to simply be. May I enjoy the freedom and refreshment this truth provides. Amen!

Mike

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