The Spiritual Discipline of Being Still

Sunday, February 21, 2016

canoe on still lake
From the moment my son left his mother's womb and came into this world he became a perpetual motion machine. As an infant it was always a battle to get him to go to sleep because somehow he knew he was missing out on all the fun once he closed his eyes. He absolutely refused to be held facing you because he couldn't see what was happening. He had to be held facing out. This is no exaggeration when I tell you that when he learned to walk, he was in high gear until he laid his head down and fell asleep.

I am like that in ways. I have to work at relaxing. My mind is always at work, thinking about the next project ahead of me, the appointments and deadlines that wait for me the next day. I am one of those that watch TV while reading the paper or surfing the Internet. I am a multitasker. Nothing wrong with that. This type of personality has many positive qualities but it also has some inherent pitfalls.

In Psalm 46:10 David tells us, "Be still and know that I am God." In the fast-paced, instant society we live in it is no easy task sometimes to just be still. The Hebrew meaning for "be still" is to let drop, abandon, relax, refrain, forsake; to let go; to withdraw. As we juggle schedules and deadlines, race here and there to get the kids to soccer practice and then piano lessons, make dinner and clean up, answer emails and return calls, spend quality time with the family, God gets overshadowed and we get overwhelmed. These necessary and important things have a way of looming large and blocking our view of God as we race through our day. It is vital that we learn to be still or withdraw from all the stuff so that we can once again see him and know who he is. In doing this, we allow his greatness to overshadow everything else. This takes practice and discipline so that it becomes a habit.

What do you need to withdraw from today? I want to propose a 7-day challenge to withdraw. For seven days commit to take five minutes every day and turn off your phone and computer, turn off the TV and even turn off the worship music. Put your bible away for those five minutes. Do nothing but sit in silence with absolutely no distractions so that you can be still and just listen. Then keep a daily journal of what you heard during those quiet moments. I challenge you to try it. It's easier said than done. We get so accustomed to all the background noise that when we turn it off we get nervous. As a pastor I am absolutely amazed at how difficult it is to get a congregation to just spend 30 seconds in silence to allow God to speak to us. People fidget and look around to see why no one is doing anything. We have become so addicted to noise that we even fill our Sunday morning services with 2 hours of non-stop singing and talking and we never let God get a word in.

I have this sneaky suspicion that the majority of our stress is not due to all the stuff we have to do, but because we just won't sit still long enough to let God speak his words of peace and reassurance to us. It is in the still, quiet moments that we find him, not in the thunder. It's the quiet whisper that we need to look for. We need to withdraw from the noise, climb up onto his lap and listen to him whisper the secret things into our ear. That is what brings peace, hope and life in the middle of chaos, stress and anxiety. Isaiah 40:31 says, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength..." That word wait literally means to linger in his presence. Our strength is renewed in the spiritual discipline of withdrawing and lingering.

Start developing the spiritual discipline of being still and watch as God begins to show you a dimension of himself that you have not yet experienced. Disconnect with the noise of life so that you can get plugged in to him. Withdraw from distractions so that you can begin to draw near to him.

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