Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) This particular scripture has been one of my favorites for a long time. It reminds me to slow my pace of life and steal away quiet moments with God. It has been there bubbling up to the surface of my scattered thoughts on days when life’s demands have distracted me from the most essential. I have known and loved this verse for what it has done in my heart –slowed me down and reminded me where I need to focus. Recently, however, events in my life have given me pause to take in this beloved verse in a new and refreshing way. As I face some difficult challenges in this season of life, God meets me in the stillness and yet surprises me with His comfort. He takes these words that have grown roots in my heart and turns them around in such a way that they blossom in an entirely new light.
As another dearly loved child left the nest, my heart began to fear this new season of life. I wondered how my children, now young adults, would walk the path of life without my constant presence. I tried to figure out how much distance to allow, when to show how much I missed them and when to give them space to figure things out on their own. I began to cling ever more tightly to the little birdy still left in my nest but knew that someday I would have to let her fly too. And my heart began to fear the unknown season that lies ahead. In response to my fearful heart, God said “Still be courageous and know that I am God.” I wondered at the interesting reversal of words in this statement. God wasn’t telling me to “be still” but to “still be.” It contradicted everything I had always settled on this scripture meaning –quiet, rest, and relaxation. Now, it was as if I was called to be active in my stillness. I was to “still be courageous” despite the fear of the unknown season. And in that, I suppose I would know that He is God.
Then there were the financial setbacks -unexpected college tuition, bills that came which were not part of our budget, car repairs that were needed and that horrible feeling of never being able to get in front of it all. I found myself distracted with worry. I succumbed to stress and focused too much on trying harder. And in the quiet place, God said “Still be trusting and know that I am God.” So He met me there, in the quietness and trust. Family members helped out, a friend loaned me a vehicle and I knew that He is God.
Sorrow gripped me as I began to reflect on the ache in my heart. Family members suffered health crisis’ which left me wondering about relationship. Loneliness, my ever constant enemy, reared its ugly head in this time of life. I wondered about the love that just never grew. I questioned my own ability to love and condemned myself for coming up short. I wanted to hide away from the “unlovelies” in my life but God said, “Still be loving and know that I am God.” In the stillness, I felt His love and let it be the fuel to help me be loving.
The most difficult news I ever heard came when we got the news that my dad had cancer. When I saw him every few months, I watched as the strong arms grew weak and the man who made me feel safe as a little girl, grew frail. I got angry, I asked why, I cried and I couldn’t see how he would ever open his heart to God in the midst of this darkness. In the stillness of my bitterness, God said, “Still be hopeful and know that I am God.” How my heart rejoiced when my step-mother asked me to get her a bible so we could read it together. How my heart’s eyes were open to the seeds of faith that were planted right next to my dad as we counted his final breaths. And so I wait in hopeful anticipation because I know that He is God.
There is another translation of Psalm 46:10 which reads, “cease striving and know that I am God.” In trying to navigate my own difficult circumstances, I never really ‘ceased striving’ to get to a place where all my problems were solved. Though I could ‘be still’ and seek God in prayer, I am not sure that I ever really ceased striving. And God knew my heart, just as He knows yours, better than I did. He knew that I had to ‘cease striving’ to figure it all out in my own mind and strength. I had to just ‘be’ what He called me to be in each and every circumstance. I began to see that the problems were divine opportunities to grow closer to God, and to practice His presence in my life. My goal was no longer “stillness” as in an absence of problems but “stillness” as in ‘still being’ what God has called me to be.
What is it in your life that leaves you fearful, or bitter, or hopeless or lonely? Are you able to meet Him in the stillness of that ugly place and let there be beauty as He tells you what you are to be? When your heart is gripped with fear, be courageous; when you feel alone, be loving; when you worry, be trusting and when you are bitter, be hopeful. When you are _______________, be _______________. But above all else, KNOW THAT HE IS GOD!