What if our seeing all that God wants to show us isn’t about us looking harder or praying harder or doing more? What if it isn’t about us being more discerning or wise or focused? What if, it’s about us being less busy. Walking slower. Pausing. Breathing. Lingering.
Be still must be accompanied with be quiet, “Shh!” They go together. Being still without being quiet negates itself. Being still and being loud misses the point. The point of being still is being quiet, being stilled.
This is a soul stillness that few of us regularly practice. A stillness from the inside out. It’s a stillness that is manifested on our faces as a peaceful contentment. In our actions as selfless service. In our devotions as pure and lovely. Stillness.
It’s the Divine, “Shh!”
In a breeze or a sunrise or the bird’s song or the flower’s bloom. It says, “Hush. Pause. Breathe.” It urges. It insists. It encourages. It draws. “Shh.”
It isn’t harsh, but still halting. Not obtrusive but mild. Not demanding but rather inviting. It doesn’t require but instead welcomes.
Sometimes it presents in the middle of a storm, a tempest that rages and roars around us. When the world seems to be falling apart. When life shatters. When our wounds are raw, our eyes are red, our pillows wet.
Sometimes it echoes when panic surrounds and threatens us. When our head is spinning. When we flustered and overwhelmed, we’ve lost our way and we feel trapped. In the distance we hear it, “Shh-“.
“Be still” and “be quiet” go together. They’re inextricable. They go together. Impossible to separate. Being still means being quiet. Being still without being quiet isn’t possible. Many of us try to practice being still without being quiet. We hope that no one will notice.
We sit still but we aren’t really still. Physically we are motionless, every muscle unmoving. But spiritually our souls aren’t. And our minds are racing. We’re merely still on the outside. We wonder why practicing being still isn’t benefiting us, why we get up and still feel empty, stressed.
Really being still is not about being physically still. Being still on the outside, is an exercise in controlling ourselves physically. And as challenging as that is-more so for some of us than others-it’s being still on the inside that is the real challenge. And, it’s being still on the inside that makes all the difference.
My mind is constantly racing, lists of things to do, projects, calls, meetings, emails, dinners. ‘To do’ lists swirl with, responsibilities, dreams, and ideas. I think about conversations I need to have, notes I need to write. My mind runs and chases, stresses and configures, considers and imagines.
God’s invitation, His gentle, “Be still,” is a providential proposition. It’s a omniscient offer, a sovereign suggestion. He’s asking me to lean in, to quiet myself, to rest in Him. To trust Him. To allow Him to do what only He can do-His good, perfect and pleasing will.
In the Old Testament, in Exodus, Moses led God’s people, the Israelites. God had prepared Moses to led as a shepherd and he was well prepared for his task. (You can review the whole story in Exodus 1-14.) In summary, God had brought Moses to be the Deliverer of His people out of the bondage of slavery under the Egyptians.
God had worked wonders through the 10 plagues and in fact had caused Pharaoh to release the Israelites. But not long after they had left and gone into the desert, Pharaoh changed his mind. He gathered his forces and went after God’s people. It was at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army to their back that Moses said to the people, “Do no fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today…The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14.13-14)
Here is a perfect example of “Be still”. In a moment of crisis, with their enemies at their backs and the vast Red Sea in front, Moses essentially says, “Be still. God’s got this one. Don’t panic. Just watch and see.”
Wow. When I want to panic, when all seems lost, when the odds are against me, when I’m lonely, defeated, and far from home. When I’m weak, worn-out and weary. When I’ve messed up again.
So, whose at your back? What are you facing? Does your situation seem impossible? Does it seem that there is no way out? Like all of your options are gone? Along with all of your hope? Do you feel like your back’s against the wall? That you’re between a rock and a hard place? Even out of wiggle room?
I tend to want to try and fix everything, everyone. I want to make it better. I’m willing to apologize, and I do. I’m willing to make amends and I have. I do whatever I can to bring about peace and reconciliation. But sometimes it’s not enough. And He whispers, “Shh-“
Let’s dare to hear His “shh” and respond. Let’s dare to be still. To be quiet. To be stilled. Calmed. Silent. Let’s dare to lean into who He is. Let’s dare to be still when everything around us is spiraling. Let’s dare to be still when we don’t think we have time to. Let’s dare to practice His presence. Be still.