The ‘Art’ of being still

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Psalm 46:10 is one of the most commonly quoted scriptures. It’s one of those soothing, refocusing, ‘grounding’ scriptures that comes to mind when we are facing a crisis of some sort. But is that what the Lord means in these words “be still and know that I am God”?

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself drawn back to this beautiful Psalm over and over again, thinking about what it means to be still.

In our modern western world, we are constantly in motion. We are busier today than our ancestors ever were. Today’s men and women feel a need to have a packed calendar. We seem to find it difficult to disconnect, even for a few minutes, from our technology and social media. We aren’t very good at resting; our minds are often several paces ahead of our feet, consumed with the next ‘important’ task. Many are consumed with work, driven to find approval, position, authority, value, or love. All this striving causes us to become soul weary. 

“Busyness is an illness of spirit.
(Eugene Peterson)

Learning the art of stillness

To take Psalm 46:10 just on its own, and quote it verbatim in times of crisis, is to lose the context and beauty of the whole Psalm, turning that single verse into a kind of ‘promise box quote.’

The Psalm starts with the words: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The next two verses describe all sorts of disasters that could happen in this life, but, the Psalmist says with great confidence and so much encouragement:
“God has a constantly flowing river whose sparkling streams bring joy and delight to his people. His river flows right through the city of God Most High, into his holy dwelling places.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:4‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Joy and delight? Amidst all these disasters? How could this be possible? The ‘city of God’ is joyful because in that dry, semi arid land, life-giving water is always present. And so it us for us. We are His dwelling place; His Spirit lives right in us, His children. (See 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:22 )
In this life, when times can so often become dry, arid, draining, scary, threatening, we have that life giving river, flowing into and out of us, refreshing our souls and making our hearts joyful. Though the nations are “in uproar,” (verse 6) our God is ever near, and we remain secure; unshaken! (verse 5). It’s in this vein then, that we come to verse ten; and I just love the way it is translated in the Passion Translation:

Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. I am the God above all the nations, and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Sometimes, the first step on the journey towards rest is to give yourself permission to just STOP. 

Jill, Mustard Seed Blog

Surrender Anxiety, Be Silent, Stop Striving” (God)
I’m revealing my age now, but back in the 1970s in The U.K. we had a children’s TV programme called Why don’t you? The theme song went: “why don’t you just switch off your television and do something less boring instead?” The presenters gave ideas and mini workshops for all sorts of innovative and creative activities to unglue children’s eyes from the television set.

What if, today, you took a similar, intentional step?
Even back then, forty-something years ago, we were starting to recognise the powerful, addictive draw of technology, and we didn’t have a fraction of what we have today! A ‘street paraphrase’ of what the Lord says to us in Psalm 46, could go something like this:

“Get off your hamster wheels of endless senseless striving, and just rest in my presence”.

If you long for a closer ‘walk’ with Jesus, and struggle in all the busyness of life to find time to ‘be still,’ think of it as investing in your relationship with Him. A relationship where one party is not invested will soon grow cold; stagnant. The Lord’s love for us never grows cold, it’s always the other way around. If you have lost your hunger and desire for deeper relationship with Jesus, all is not lost. Make the choice today to take the step towards intentional stillness.

We practice stillness, not as some sort of ritual, or religious duty to be ticked off the list, but because we want to connect with the heart of Jesus. A simple and easy step towards intentionally being still, is to make the decision to set aside daily time of solitude, where it’s just you and Jesus. It doesn’t really matter whether it is ten minutes or an hour, it’s the intent and the true longing of your heart that matters. Turn off all distracting technology, including your phone. Be ‘unreachable’ for that period, on social media. Keep a notebook and pen by your side to write down your thoughts, as the Lord begins to speak to you.

Personally, I find it helps continuity to have a designated place in the house that I go to to be still. For me, it’s a room in our house that we jokingly call the “quiet room.” In the summertime, it was a hidden spot in the garden, on a seat under some overgrown hedges. The place doesn’t really matter; when you set aside this time to intentionally spend in Jesus’ presence, you will discover that wonderful truth of James 4:8, that when you draw near to God, seeking Him with all your heart, He really will draw near to you!

Stepping away from the regular flow of your life isn’t always possible, but even on those days, it is possible to find creative ways to be still. After all, He is ever present! What if you were to turn off the radio in your car and drive in silence to work, or as you do the school run, giving the Lord a chance to get a word in edgewise? Perhaps you could go for a walk in your lunch break, or sit alone somewhere with your phone switched off. The important thing is to not allow anything or anyone to take that time you have set aside to be still, and purposely aware of His presence.

Jill 💜

*The original photo used for this post’s cover graphic is from a stunning collection by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “The ‘Art’ of being still

  1. Such important and wise counsel. I’m trying to “be still” and depend on the Lord and see as truly valuable the time spent with Him in prayer and study.
    Thank you sister for edifying post and scriptures. 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

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