Be still

God commands me: “Be still and know that I am God.”

This command in Psalm 46:10 is inviting – I can picture myself peacefully being still in his presence.  Yet, at the same time, it seems such a waste of time.  I could be doing something or planning something.

It’s a little like that story in Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus is visiting his friends Mary and Martha.  Martha is doing things, running around preparing for a meal and being a good hostess.  Her sister Mary seems to be slacking off, just sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him.  Martha gets upset and protests to Jesus, asking him to tell Mary to help with the preparations.

Jesus’ response is that “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.”

People have wrestled with these words for centuries.  They seem wrong.  Shouldn’t we be working hard?  Shouldn’t we be doing good things for others?

Yes, of course we should.  There is a lot of scriptural support for working hard and doing good.

But, God also tells us to “be still and know that I am God.”  Why?

Because without being still, I really can’t know God.  And if I don’t know God, all my running around in busyness is futile.  The important thing, as Jesus suggested to Martha, is to know him and enjoy him.

It is true that I can get to know God better through serving others.  But I can’t see God at work unless I am looking for him.  And I won’t be looking for him unless I spend time in his presence – getting to know him.  Being still before God helps me be active for God.

This is something I have known for a long time.  And when I am quiet with God – listening to him and his promptings in my heart – I feel his peace steal over me.  I gain insights I did not have when I was thrashing about in bed worrying at night.

The apostle Paul touches on this in Romans 12:2 where he tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  When our minds are renewed, we will be “able to test and approve what God’s will is.”  We will know what God wants us to do when our minds are renewed.  How do we renew our minds?  One way is simply being still so that we can know God.

Those who make this a habit say that there is nothing better than spending time in silence before God.

I am taking this to heart.  I want to know him better.

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