Recently, my husband, David and I were able to get away for a much-needed holiday. Before we left, people asked where we were going. Many were a bit shocked when I told them I didn’t know—honestly. To begin with, we had booked our holiday months earlier and I couldn’t actually remember where we were going. But the fact remained that it really didn’t matter to me. All I knew for certain was that I was hopping on a plane and going far away and out of reach from everyone and everything for an extended period of time.
We aren’t very good tourists at the best of times (often known for forgetting our camera). But this time round, we were intentionally not going to see the sights. We weren’t going to meet friends or make new ones. And we weren’t even necessarily going to participate in any of the activities available to us. After several months of settling into our new church ministry in a new city and adjusting to our new normal we were exhausted and in great need of a time away just to be.
Perhaps you’re asking, as I did once upon a time, what it is to be. I would have to say, it is just as it says—a state of being—non-activity, non-thinking, non-programming, non-engaging, and non-striving. Rather, simply being.
How is that possible—not only on a holiday—but in life in general? Psalm 46:10 gives us a good guideline.
“Be still, and know that I am God”
Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I can start playing God. By that I mean I take on responsibility that was never intended to be mine. And when that happens, I begin to strive instead of thrive. Rather than resting and trusting I’m reeling and rusting. In church ministry, it’s easy to take on the responsibility of success (often measured by attendance, beauty, and cash rather than authenticity, brokenness and community); becoming everyone’s saviour rather than simply letting the Saviour take care of His own business. When we let God be God, we can be still.
“Be still, and know that I am”
At various points in my life I have made a habit of stopping and asking myself, “Who is God to me?” For instance, when I was 12-years-old my parents were separated and I met Him as my Heavenly Father. When I was 15, He became my Saviour; understanding that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A couple of years later, I acknowledged Him as my Lord. Since that time, He’s proven Himself to be my All in All, my Prince of Peace, my Wonderful Counselor, my Rock, and my Defender. He’s been my Anchor through times of storm. He’s proven Himself to be my Redeemer after significant loss, my Friend in loneliness, my Good Shepherd; leading me beside still waters and restoring my soul. He continues to be the Unchanging God through all the changes in my life. Ultimately, He is the great I AM! As we grow in our understanding of who God is, we can be all He created us to be.
“Be still, and know”
Romans 8:28 is a popular verse we often apply to those who are hurting. One thing I’ve learned through grief is that it doesn’t help as a remedy or quick fix. Rather it frustrates and doesn’t easily give us the assurance we’re looking for. Therefore, instead of focusing on the hope in “And we know all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Roman 8:28, NIV), I have found it more profitable to emphasize the first three words, “And we know” What we know changes everything. When we know that the Lord is good and faithful and that He isn’t out to get us. When we know and truly believe that He has a hope and a future for us we can be assured, we can be confident, and we can be at peace.
To be still is to quiet one’s self, to settle one’s spirit, to chill out. It means to quit wrestling. Stop worrying. Quit trying to figure it out. Cease striving! Matthew 6:28 says, “See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin” (Matthew 6:28b, NIV). They just are and yet they glorify our Father in heaven. I find it interesting that the rest of Psalm 46:10 says, “ I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NIV). Do you hear that? He’ll be exalted/glorified as we be. How often do we get laboring and spinning because we are worried and upset, fearful and anxious? How much more beneficial to our mental and emotional health, how much easier to be if we would simply “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)?
When we believe that He is God, when we understand that He is the great I Am, when we consider all we know about God, and when we take intentional time to be still we will learn how to. . .
We serve an “and- then-some” God. Who is quite capable of handling things on His own—without our help, without our proving, without our striving or straining. As we learn to be, our perspective is renewed, our soul is restored, and we begin to rest in Him, trust in Him, and entrust our worries, our cares, and our lives to Him—leaving the doing to Him. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NIV).
To be or not to be? Now that’s a good question!
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Rippleand Dancing in the Rain. Additionally she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
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Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org