He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46: 10 (NIV)
The word stillness is not my favorite word by any means. At some point in my life, I completely removed it from my vocabulary. Utterly resolved to venture into a life of productivity, and perfect it, I was prepared to ring in the new year with this mentality. Excitedly writing my hopes, dreams, and things I wanted to accomplish in 2021, I vowed not to hold back—to be proactive and watch the blessing flow. Then December 31st happened.
You know that poem we love to quote? Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures.” In theory, it sounds great. In reality, it’s far from it. The keyword here is makes. This situation is involuntary. I’m all for new opportunities and restful waters, but I rarely like the road that leads to them. But on New Year’s Eve, I found myself on that path. Compelled to follow in the footsteps of David, I was led in a new direction for God’s name’s sake—not my own.
Stop striving and know that I am God; (NASB)
God was speaking to me. He had been instructing me to relax in His presence and sink into His arms. But I didn’t hear Him. I was too busy planning how to accomplish my preconceived agenda. I was hostage to my distractions, pursuing security yet tightening the knots of worry. God used my physical health to stop the habitual cycle of restlessness I was in. To get me to see that focusing on the future prevented me from completely taking part in the present. Busyness was filling my schedule, yet starving my spirit. It was hindering my ability to pay attention to what mattered most, and it was depriving me of knowing God—deeply and more fully.
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”Psalm 127:2 (NIV)
God built into our very being an inner call to restfulness, a place void of distraction where we can pay attention. In this space is where we are most receptive of Him. The beginning of Psalm 46: 10 is an invitation to surrender. But my busyness revealed my desire for productivity more than faithfulness. Yet the crux of my faith is surrenderance, not effort. The phrase ‘be still’ in Hebrew means rapa: to release, to let yourself become weak.
Let go [of your concerns]! Then you will know that I am God. (GWT)
My body became the lesson, my heart the student. I had to give up putting my trust in myself to better understand the One who can be trusted. But I couldn’t acknowledge my confidence in God without first letting go of the confidence I placed within myself. My busyness had produced fearful thoughts that I unknowingly held onto. I was worried about not having enough and not being enough. And my plans brought me security. As my schedule filled up, so did my self-worth. Things that satisfied my ego but deprived my spirit consumed me.
But God wants us to find security in Him, not in what we’re able to accomplish. When we let go of everything we take comfort in outside of Him, we surrender the fight to God. But the choice is ours: surrender or be surrendered. Can we trust God’s sovereignty? Are we courageous enough to experience Him fully—in whatever ways it manifests?
Calm down, and learn that I am God! (CEV)
God alone is sovereign. I was reminded of that while lying in a hospital bed, painfully aware of my limitations. This uncontrollable, and honestly embarrassing, situation forced me to recommit my thoughts and my heart to the fact that God was at work in my struggle. I thought, “I need help.” His response, “I AM.” “I need strength.” His answer, “I AM.” I was being called to lean into the power of inactivity, to embrace His purposes for my life—which can only be discovered in Him. He didn’t want me invested in the imitation of a fruitful life, He actually wanted me to participate in an authentic God-ordained one. But His purposes are rarely, if ever, found in busyness. And its fruit cannot be achieved without rest.
Be still and see that I am God; (DRB)
For nearly two weeks, I remained reliant on people and utterly dependent on God. It wasn’t a good look for me, but it was necessary. Instead of focusing on what needed to get done, I meditated on what God needed me to hear. I sought what it meant to be still. And I reluctantly followed God into that uncomfortable space. It was a shift in perspective—a call to open my eyes to all that God was doing. He wasn’t following my agenda; He was honoring His own. And He showed me that everything He was doing was an expression of His love and extension of His grace. When we still our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, we hear God and see that He’s good.
Be in awe and know that I am God. (ISV)
In the stillness is where we experience the divine—still lacking, still needing, yet still held. This sacred space is a gift from God, through God, to God. It’s where we get to see His grace mightily sustain us as life continues to unfold and develop. We get to be fully present and entirely devoted to each moment and see that He is greater than all other gods (Exodus 18:11). Whether your god is work, your image, a relationship, or anything else created by the Creator, He will intercept & redirect your footsteps. But when we surrender to His plan, He shows us who He is—all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present. And it’s in that stopping where we find Him.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
- What is your little “g” god (thoughts, fears, societal standards, labels, rejection, etc.)?
- In what ways might God be asking you to let Him be the God of your little “g” god?