Every morning, for some years now, Linda gets up and sits in our living room, quietly, before God. She does this for up to a half hour. She slows down in her heart and mind. She listens for the voice of God. She gets spoken-to by God. She has been captivated by Psalm 46:10, which reads: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The Hebrew word here for “be still” is raphah. It means things like: “be slack” (re. your arms); “be idle” (stop working and striving); “take leave” (of all your busyness); “cease struggling” (with God); even “be weak” (so God can be strong).
“Chill out, and know that I am God.”
“Let go, and know that I am God.”
Ps. 46: 10 does not instruct us to:
“Overwork, and know that I am God.”
“Be busy, and know that I am God.”
“Multi-task, and know that I am God.”
“Try harder, and know that I am God.”
“Get uptight, and know that I am God.”
We can draw a line that connects Psalm 46:10 with John 15, where Jesus tells us to “abide” and “rest” and “remain” in him, like a branch is connected to a vine. The promises for us then include: Jesus will give us his peace, his joy, and reveal to us all the Father has made know to him. This is the incredible invitation to “be” with God, with the seminal Jesus-idea that being is prior to doing; viz., being-with God necessarily precedes all relevant “doing” in the name of God.
The “be still” thing is essentially a heart-thing. You don’t have to be in a physically quiet place to have a still, quieted heart. A “stilled” heart can be had in the midst of outer chaos. Jesus himself walked into a number of dark, chaotic situations. We don’t see him freaking out and taking on the outer chaos in his own, inner heart. There is a focused calm about him that’s all about his ongoing abiding in the Father. How does Jesus do this? Who wouldn’t want to live like this? But how is this possible? In John 14-15 he gives us the answers.
In John 14 Jesus says: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” Then Jesus gives his disciples, and us, this amazing invitation: “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” The Father and Jesus the Son will come and “make their home in us.” (John 14:23) If God is in your “home” (= heart), struggling ceases, and stillness remains. If the Lord is my fortress and in his fortress I dwell, what shall I fear? Who wouldn’t want to live like that?
Begin, today, with these thoughts in mind and in action.
1. Take 10-15 minutes and just “be” in God’s presence. With no agenda but (if this can rightly be called an “agenda”) to “be still, and know that God is God.”
2. Do this again tomorrow. And the next day…, and so on…
3. Do not strive to make something happen. You might say to God, “I want to know how to be heart-still, that I might know You better.”
5. Watch, over time, that and how God meets you in that secret place which is your heart.
A final thought. There might be so much chaos in your life right now that you are thinking “I cannot find time to do this with all the stuff that’s going on!” Or: “I could never get still before God with all the clutter in my heart!”
I can tell you from personal experience, and much time doing this, and teaching this to many pastors and leaders over the years, that while “being still” in the middle of chaos might seem counter-intuitive, it is precisely what is needed, and what God calls you to do. In the phrase “know that I am God,” it is important to understand that “knowing,” in Hebrew, is a relational, experiential thing. Psalm 46:10 is a “call to relationship” with God. As are the last earthly words of Jesus in John chapters 14-17.