“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
It’s safe to say that there is plenty of chaos right now.
“Be still and know that I am God.” It sounds great, doesn’t it? But this is more than bumper sticker theology. Something resonates in our hearts when we hear it, but when the reality of life rushes in, there can be a ‘yeah, right?’ response that is like a knee jerk reaction in our heads. “But doesn’t God know what’s going on in my life?!?” “How on earth am I supposed to ‘Be Still’??” “My whole world is falling apart!”
Yes. That’s the point right there.
In this Psalm, it starts out:
God is our protection and our strength.
He always helps in times of trouble.
Yes. We agree with that: He does help in times of trouble. He is our protection and strength. We know that with our heads, but not always with our hearts. But this scripture goes on:
2 So we will not be afraid even if the earth shakes,
or the mountains fall into the sea,
3 even if the oceans roar and foam,
or the mountains shake at the raging sea. Selah
4 There is a river that brings joy to the city of God,
the holy place where God Most High lives.
5 God is in that city, and so it will not be shaken.
God will help her at dawn.
6 Nations tremble and kingdoms shake.
God shouts and the earth crumbles.
7 The Lord All-Powerful is with us;
the God of Jacob is our defender. Selah
The world in this Psalm is falling apart: earthquakes, landslides, and roaring oceans. The presence of God is there and is protecting through it. And there’s war! It goes on to read:
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the amazing things he has done on the earth.
9 He stops wars everywhere on the earth.
He breaks all bows and spears
and burns up the chariots with fire.
Here is the invitation:
10 God says, “Be still and know that I am God.
I will be praised in all the nations;
I will be praised throughout the earth.”
The psalmist goes on to say:
11 The Lord All-Powerful is with us;
the God of Jacob is our defender. Selah
It’s helpful for me to remember the context of this scripture. To remember in a world where it seems that all hell is breaking loose, that God is still God. He is still my protector, my strength. The invitation that He gives to me (or us) is to do something that will help to get that knowledge from our heads to our hearts. The invitation that He gives us is to “be still.” To stop striving. To stop. To breathe. To experience Him as the One who cares for us and declares life over us and gives life to us; who provides for and protects us.
A helpful way that I practice stillness is an intentional practice called Attention and Intention.
Attention means that I’m becoming aware of the moment. Our minds tend to be so many other places than where we actually are: either in the past, or in the future, divided between doing our everyday activities while, at the same time, being caught in news cycles or gossip – which by the way, gossip isn’t always things that are untrue, sometimes they are just things that are none of our business. I know that it so easy to get sucked into distraction and not being present. But when I practice attention, I am remembering that in this moment, this is the only place I can be. I feel my chair beneath me, I take a breath, I listen and notice the quiet or the little sounds in my surroundings. I focus my attention on being in this place, because there is nowhere else I can be.
Intention means that in the simplicity of this moment I fix my thoughts on Jesus and His kingdom. On His lordship in my life. As I do this, I don’t need to work myself into a frenzy in order to be seen or loved by Him. I can surrender all those things that are in my heart and mind: my fears, disappointments with others and myself…I can stop striving. I can be still, and remember, and open myself to know that He. Is. God.
“Lord, give us the grace to be present to Your presence and Your voice in our lives. In the chaos of this time, we long to know that You are God – not just in our heads, but we pray for that reality to seep into our hearts. Purify our hearts, oh God, take us and mold us.”