Thursday, March 15, 2007

Be Still

I have an image in my head of my oldest daughter, explaining to me why she couldn't get a project done that I had for her. This was several years ago when she explained: "I can't sit steeeel." At the time, I was very amused that she did have an answer, one that was a bold admission. Most people don't want anyone one of their character flaws. She boldly admitted it, and I got a chuckle out of it. I still look at her at times and think: "I can't sit steeel."

It is difficult for almost anyone to sit still any more. Our culture is not a sit still culture. We are the fast food nation. You know that. We can't take time to sit steeeel for supper. Everything has drive-up. No service stations anymore. We might have to sit and wait for something. I could take this all back by saying that we can sit steeeel to watch television, well, as long as the people on television aren't sitting steeeel. Television watching is a form of role play. People can "sit" and watch and live vicariously through the characters. And normally they don't want something slow moving. Imagine Barney sitting like a talking head. I'm sure he would grow old just sitting still like that. Viewership would plummet. Kids will tell you how bored they are if they don't have something to do. "Something" usually isn't work. They mean something to do that will amuse them, entertain them. We've created a new word to brag about how busy we are: multi-tasking.

Is it a grasshopper? A large cicada that landed on the side of someone's head? That's what I've thought when I see the genetically attached phone projecting from someone's ear. We have to keep in contact always, even if it's texting, the surface of earth becoming a land of electronic noises, beepings and orchestrations announcing the mere phone call. We need to talk, watch, and listen. Media fixation. Channel and webpage surfing revealing designs that bombard the senses, leaving us unable to concentrate like we once could.

Yes, I do think it's all a conspiracy against God. Living by faith in God requires His command in Psalm 46:10.

Be still, and know that I am God.

God requires stillness. We must stop and pause to listen, to consider, to cogitate, and to meditate, to chew the cud. It's hard to rest in this fast moving current, but God commanded it. We really do need to stop, not to smell the roses. I tried to talk to a woman at her door about eternal life, about the state of her soul, about whether she was ready to meet God. She couldn't. Why? She had beans on the stove. If beans were enough to distract her from the eternal and spiritual, Satan is not going to have to pull out any of his big cannons. To her, God wasn't worth beans. That's the truth of it for many people, perhaps even something less significant than beans. Beans may look substantive comparatively.

God doesn't want us going through life in automatic pilot or in some interminable ritual of indifference toward Him. He wants us to be still. Don't hop into the car. Don't touch that remote control. Keep your fingers off any of the on buttons. Spend time thinking about God---His greatness, His love, His power, His justice, His mercy, His goodness, His holiness---recounting His attributes. He is more than worth being noticed. It behooves us to turn everything off---the radio, television, computer, stereo---get alone, and give Him our time; wait on Him.

Finlandia is an amazing piece of music. My son and daughter's orchestra played this in an afternoon concert on Sunday. The end is spine tingling. I actually think that the music by Sibelius better fits Psalm 46:10 than the typical hymn rendition of Be Still My Soul. Look at the whole verse:

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

God commands us to "be still," but whether we decide to obey that or not, everyone will be still at some point. The second half of the verse takes away the quiet, pastoral presentation we often sense from that snippet of Finlandia that serves as the melody to the hymn. The beginning of Finlandia might better represent the verse. The idea is: "You better be still or else, because I will be exalted among the heathen." The heathen don't tend toward exalting God, so what do you think is going to happen to them for this to occur? Every knee will bow whether they like it, whether they choose to or not.

If any of us would stop to consider the great mercy, grace, love, and goodness of God, we would better understand the joy and peace of stillness. We can cut through the noise, the busy mess, and find the beauty in what God has done. Let's do more than smell the coffee. Let's take a deep breath, unwind, let the tension seep from our knotted muscles, and let God take over our thoughts.

Sit steeeeel. Be still.


Chris Topher Myers said...

You know me and that I have never readily been one of those sit still for extended periods of time people. But I do find it non-accidental that one of the most calming things Jesus ever said to bring peace to the troubled disciples was, "peace, be still." Just a comforting thought I guess. Thanks for listening, I am going to go sit at lunch now. Looking forward to seeing the teens in April.

Sonya said...

I find myself hitting the sleep button on my clock radio at night to listen to talk radio as I doze off to sleep. When I rise in the morning I hit the sleep button to listen to the news as I ready myself for work. When I shut the car door, buckle-up, start the car, I then reach for the volume button on the car radio. Most of the time the noise is entering my mind without a second thought, that is just it.. I am not thinking at all.

I believe this noise is similar to what is hindering my fellowship with God through prayer. I keep talking, but I don't sit still. It is hard to sit in silence, but by God's grace I now see there is a definite problem here. Thank you for pointing out that this is a command - "Be still".

I am listening.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks, the Lord is working in my life in this area too.

Juan Carlos Asmat said...

"If any of us would stop to consider the great mercy, grace, love, and goodness of God, we would better understand the joy and peace of stillness"
Thanks for this reminder pastor. Now that I am in class and things are just moving alone; I have found myself sometimes just going alone with the schedule and not stopping to consider God's goodness. So now, when we have a break during class; I found an office in the bathroom to just "Be still" Once again thanks.