Posted in Faith Nuggets

Be Still

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.

 

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts, Thoughts from Life

Walk Away…and Toward

That’s what I’m trying to do today – walk away.

Walk away from the constant involvement.

Walk away from the computer (yes, I wrote this ahead of time!).

Walk away from the e-mail.

Walk away from the things that continually to claim my thoughts and my attention.

In our constantly connected world, it becomes harder and harder to walk away. I homeschool. I work from home via the Internet. Our ministry surrounds us all the time. The “office” – no matter which office it is – can go with me anywhere.

It’s hard to walk away. I have to choose to do it.

But, I think the bigger question is this: What am I walking toward?

God is teaching me more and more about rest. The need for it. The reality that rest is a command. But also the intricacies of it. What does it mean? How do the OT laws and principles apply to me today? How can I be obedient to the command for Sabbath rest in my life?

That’s where the walking away question comes into play. You see, I have long known that I need to regularly walk away from work. But, when I do, I feel lost. So many hours are focused on teaching my children, handling the ministry side of life, participating with my family in meeting the needs of our home, and meeting my HEDUA obligations.

What do I do when I walk away from the work?

I must have something I’m walking toward. And it cannot just be a generic statement of “rest” because I need to know exactly what rest means. What does it look like?

The only answer is that I must walk toward Christ.

Which brings me to an interesting thought. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing on a daily basis?

Could it be that rest is not just a weekly Sabbath thing but a daily thing? Could it be that Jesus’ invitation to come to Him means that we can find rest even in the day to day pressure?

Could it be that I am commanded to walk away daily, walking toward Him instead and allowing Him to take full control of every moment?

Could it be that even in the pressure of life, I can dwell in rest?

What a powerful thought!

Yes, today, I’m walking away from certain aspects of work to spend time being refreshed with my family. But, my direction for today should be no different than my direction for Monday. Each and every day I should be walking away from the cares of this world and walking toward rest in Christ. He will then take care of the details of that rest.

Will you walk toward Him with me today?

Posted in Faith Nuggets, Thoughts from Creation

Visible or Real: Are They the Same?

Darkness had just descended over the DFW suburb. Standing in the middle of a dark parking lot, I looked up. What would I see?

Not much.

A blanket of dark gray greeted my eyes. It looked rather musty and dirty. Here and there, scattered widely across the expanse, a few lights dotted the gray. But they did not twinkle. They did not shine. They were just there, little specks that just barely stood out against the background.

Had I been home that night, the view would have been very different.

Rather than a dark, fuzzy gray, the blanket above me would have been a deep, solid black stretching as far as the eye could see. Liberally salted across the expanse would have been innumerable lights, twinkling merrily to the great pleasure of viewers on earth below. Some would even show off their colors. Reds, blues, yellows, and greens flickering in the night. Only a few stars would neglect to twinkle, their distance allowing them visibility but not personality.

What was the difference?

Not the sky. It was the same sky. Although it takes me a good six to seven hours to drive from my Arkansas home to the DFW area, it is not enough distance to put us under a different sky. The same constellations hover over us. The same planets rise and set with only slight adjustments in their potential visibility.

Yes, it was the same sky.

The difference was the earthly surroundings.

We live in the third largest county in Arkansas – geographically, that is. But the population density is only nineteen people per square mile. As you can well imagine, we do not produce much light pollution out here!

Being outside in the country at night is breath-taking. In the city, it is much more mundane. Airplanes are more visible than the stars. It can be hard to remember the beauty of God’s astronomical creation when the city sky is all we know.

Where do we live spiritually?

Do you see the spiritual application here? What we can see varies greatly depending on our position, our surroundings, and our circumstances.

But what is really there does not change.

Is it hard to see evidence of God’s power right now? Is His presence masked a bit by your location in life? I would ask you to keep two things in mind.

First and foremost, visible and real are not the same. Our spiritual eyes play tricks on us just as our physical eyes do sometimes. We have to rely on what we know to be true. The stars have not disappeared. They cannot be seen right now, but they are still there. They are still magnificent. And at some point we will be back in a place where we can see and enjoy them again!

Secondly, remember this: Just because you cannot see the stars does not mean you are in the wrong place! There are times in our spiritual lives when we live in both places. We have opportunities to see clearly, but we also have times when the view is obscured. Not by sin. Not by error. Just by the our current position in life. After all, infinitely more stars exist than can even be seen in the unpolluted country sky. There is always something we cannot see.

No, visible and real are not the same. Which do you trust today?