Stillness. Solitude. Silence.
I was recently reminded (in a study through the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney) just how necessary these disciplines are. And, when I am practicing them diligently, I definitely reap their benefits. But, oh how easy it is to fall out of that discipline! It does not take long to forget how to be still. How to soak up the solitude. How to embrace silence.
Any time there is a call to practice these disciplinary triplets, Ps 46:10 is bound to come up. It is regularly quoted and continually promoted as we attempt to step away from the chaos and truly embrace the presence of our God and Savior. But how often do we truly stop and contemplate the fullness of this particular psalm? What do we regularly recall of its context?
The opening verses speak of God’s presence in our trouble, even if the trouble is profound natural disaster. The awesome power of God’s voice and presence pound through the chaos in great might and victory. And that victory does not come in mildness. It is violent. Aggressive. He makes wars cease, but He does so through a show of power – a demonstration of the fact that He is, indeed, greater than all other kings put together and therefore has the authority to cause wars to cease.
In the midst of this, we get the well known instruction to “be still.”
Even though there is more to the verse, we put the emphasis on those two words – the “be still” part. We seek stillness. The ideal getaway. Sabbatical. The perfect season to stop and reconnect. And as we seek, we completely lose the context of what is being said here.
I re-evaluated this psalm lately by reading it in five commonly used translations, and here is what I found:
“Be still and know that I am God.” (KJV, ESV, NIV)
“Stop your fighting and know that I am God.” (CSB)
“Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB)
In the middle of an aggressive and blatant show of power, God practically bellows into the chaos, telling every power, every aggressor, every warrior, every nation to stop! Cease! Be still! And know that He is the only One in charge. Period. This is not a calm, reconnective moment. This is a show of true authority. It is seen in the middle of chaos. Utter and complete chaos that is shattered by the truth of God.
STOP! Be still! Stop your fighting! Cease striving!
Stillness is not a natural response to chaos. We keep pushing, keep working, keep trying to get on top. But God says stop and recognize who He is.
Can I? It bucks against everything my soul screams to do! It feels like giving up! It feels like surrendering in the most horrible of ways!
Will I? It is the epitome of obedience. It is surrender, but surrender to the One who controls the chaos in every way.
It is excruciatingly hard and incredibly vital.
So, I will be still, stop fighting, cease striving…
…and know that He is God.