There were a few events that happened to me the last few days that troubled me. They were fresh on my mind as I spent time with Jesus that morning. My heart was unsettled as I worried about the unknown outcome of these situations and I couldn’t shut my mind off as I worked through a number of responses and potential outcomes. This did nothing but feed my anxiety. It was a tempest raging inside of me.
As I sat down that morning and tried my best to bring it to my Father, I heard an overwhelming invitation,
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10)
Truthfully, I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but as I meditated on that verse, a few things became abundantly clear:
1. Being “still” is not a natural state for us as human beings or it wouldn’t be an invitation/command. The Bible doesn’t command us to be “selfish” or to be “anxious”. These are the natural, fleshly inclinations of our hearts because of our broken, sinful state.
When faced with an unpredictable, unplanned circumstance, my heart became fearful of the unknown. In an effort to alleviate that fear and anxiety, my mind began to work tirelessly for a solution or a planned response. The longer I wrestled in my mind, the stronger my anxiety became at the lack of response to this new threat to my emotional security. They were feeding off of each other.
It is interesting for me to note that in the past, however, sometimes this pairing worked. My heart became fearful of the unknown, my mind went to work and provided my heart with a number of options with variable outcomes and my heart was satisfied and the fear subsided.
Over the last year or so, God graciously has been leading me in a different direction. I have regularly been lead into situations where my past experience/knowledge could not be applied. No matter how my mind processed, I couldn’t come up with a solution that was sufficient enough to placate my fear. It was a real life “choose your own adventure” that didn’t have any good endings.
Being “still” was/is not generally my first response. My heart wanted something more immediate.
2. As I meditated further I realized that being “still” is not a passive verb. This is not about me emptying my mind or stopping everything that I am doing and just sitting there. There is an internal wrestling that needs to occur but it’s not about pushing these things out of your mind as an act of the will, but rather an act of releasing and surrender.
In this particular verse, “being still” is actually paired with another verb.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
The Hebrew word for “know” describes an intimate knowledge that transcends a mere formality (eg. “I know the mayor.”) . Rather, if “knowledge” were on a continuum, this Hebrew word represents the deepest of intimacy. (For those of you familiar with the KJV, it’s the same word that is translated in Genesis 4:1, “And Adam knew his wife and she conceived…”. You get what I mean?)
What I realized is that my invitation from the Father to “be still” was also an invitation to remind myself of who He was and how he has engaged His people throughout history and me in particular. In my efforts to “be still”, I needed to “remember” and in remembering, I would move toward a deeper intimacy with Him.
In response to this, I spent the rest of my quiet time, reflecting, remembering and rejoicing in the character of God and what he has done. In this particular instance, he reminded me of his sovereignty (He was not surprised, overwhelmed or inattentive to my current situation) and his love (Because love is who he “is” (not just the motivation for his actions) he cannot violate his character. Therefore, every action toward me is governed by the all-encompassing, everlasting, unrelenting love He has for me.).
Turth be told, this process was, however, not without its struggle. My heart and mind did not want to “be still and know”, they wanted to “be anxious and problem-solve”! It truly felt like I had to wrestle with them, like restless children, one under each arm and force them to “cease striving”. As the anxiety fought to return, I had to remind my heart of the depth of my Father’s love for me. As my mind fought to process, I had to remind it of the sovereign God who will manage this situation far better than I ever could. Ultimately, in “being still and knowing”, my heart and mind were eventually quieted and comforted.
This battle to “be still” is not over for me. Because I am naturally prone to act independently from God, I know that this will continue to be a regular occurrence. My deepest desire, though, right now, is to re-train my heart and mind to “be still” first before defaulting to anxiety and problem-solving. I long that my first response will be to walk in faith in the intimate “knowledge” of my Father.
“Be still and know….”
The journey continues….