“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).
Whenever I’ve read this verse, (which is usually on a FB graphic or on a coffee mug), I imagine calm seas and peaceful breezes. We often talk about this verse when we need to have rest, quiet places to sit and read the Bible. All of that is fine. God does provide those things sometimes. But I think we’ve got a false impression of what it means to “be still.”
This week I’ve been packing our house. I’ve been trying to plan a 10-yr old’s birthday party. I’ve been juggling house inspectors, repair men, a 3-yr old’s nap, and just hoping to be showered in time for my evening commitments. I’ve been trying to understand inspection reports and book study questions, and applying the meaning of both to the decisions I’ve got to make for my life. I’ve driven to and from a city over 200 miles away in one day, with plans to repeat that trip two more times before move day. And I’ve also been dreaming. And talking. And doing.
Life hasn’t been still…in the slightest definition of the word.
In fact, the picture that comes to mind is the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz. There I am, like Dorothy, grasping tightly to my bed, watching houses and a poop-emoji-bithday-cake fly past the window. I see boxes and bubble wrap topple and spin through the air. The A/C guy and sprinkler repair man wave at me as they whiz by and toss the bill into my lap. And then the buyers for our house ride by on their bike and cackle through the window, “I’ll get you, my pretty.” (yes, there is a story there).
I think when we read, “Be still and know that I am God…”, we imagine finally landing in a magical land full of color and singing and little people who just want to give us oversized lolly-pops and cheer at our arrival.
But that’s not the way life works.
Being still is leaning against the bed and watching in amazement as God does all the work outside the window. The house is still going to shake. There might still be moments when the mayhem induces dizziness and nausea. But in that sepia-colored movie scene, Dorothy sits still as the world spins outside the door.
He doesn’t tell us to be still so that we can rest. He doesn’t tell us to be still so that we can have a quiet cup of coffee. He doesn’t tell us to be still so that we can enjoy comfort and earthly stability. He wants us to know that He is God.
And when God shows up, He usually comes in big ways…like burning bushes and trembling ground, crazy whirlwinds of activity and madness. He comes with strength and fury. His Spirit violently blows through communities toppling over idols and uniting hearts to be on His mission. He kicks up the dirt and moves families out of their homes to be closer to those with whom He is asking to do big things. He rattles our hearts with meaningfully deep questions and spurs us into actually engaging with the world around us. That’s not representative of a peaceful river scene on a Christian coffee mug. It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. It’s not still.
But He tells us to be still enough to look.
He is busy out there. He is busy exalting Himself among the nations, exalting Himself over all the earth. That isn’t accomplished by Him being still or for life’s schedule to be calm and serene.
Today, I might dare to step outside the spinning house, hold onto the front door posts, and lean into the twister…lean into what He’s got going on out there. If I gain enough courage, I might stick my chin into the wind and let the fierce storm tangle my hair and wet my eyes. I might, just might, embrace the howl of His mysterious work as it whips with sting across my face. Will you come with me?
Let’s get to KNOW Him.