Still.

When I sat down with my coffee and journal the other morning, I struggled to concentrate. I worked longer than usual the day before. I was more tired than usual. And there was more swirling in my mind than usual. I was anticipating a very long day.

And “Psalm 46” came to mind.

It’s the “be still” psalm. It contains the phrase “be still and know that I am God.” Many of us say that phrase to ourselves. It’s supposed to be calming. It’s supposed to remind us that God is God.

And we are taking it out of context.

FullSizeRender.jpgThe writer isn’t talking to himself. He’s quoting God. People see chaos and warfare, battles and belligerence. And God says, “Be still.” It’s a powerful command from God that stills the strife. In this setting, it’s not words to ourselves, orienting our life around stillness.

Not that orienting our lives is impossible or undesirable. But the image in this picture is less like a quiet sanctuary and more like a boat in the middle of a storm. There are a dozen men in the boat who are awake and one who is asleep.The waves are smashing the sides. The wind is catching the mast as if it were a sail.

The waves are smashing the sides. The wind is catching the mast as if it were a sail.  The storm is threatening to undo everything: The boat, the sanity of the passengers, the confidence of the sailors. And the sleeper, when awakened, says, “be still.” And the passengers said, “is this God?”

Some mornings, perhaps, we struggle a bit too much to make ourselves still. Some mornings, perhaps, we need to abandon all pretense and cry out to God for our very lives.

I have no guarantees of the results. It’s not a formula that, if uttered with enough passion, conjures God. But I know that God has a history of speaking order into chaos.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

2 thoughts on “Still.

  1. Hm it is interesting you point out the ordering of chaos. Because if God has spoken “be still and know I am God” to reality as a whole (and I’m a sub component of that whole) then I need to be His. It seems to me that physical stillness, in the end, is only a small element in knowing God because the focus is really being God’s, not the stillness. When Jesus says “let us go over to the other side” it is a promise. I realized recently God’s words are a reality themselves. And so Jesus can ask the disciples if they have no faith because He had already spoken their arriving. Which brings back the ordering of chaos. The stillness is more like what’s necessary in quicksand. Not physically moving for a short time is necessary to allow our natural bouyancy to release us. There’s slow work extracting ourselves but it comes from the ordered state of letting the water molecules work to separate us from the compacting mire rather than seek to thrash my way out trusting the power of my own presence. The disciples tried thrashing and realized it wasn’t going to work and did the only sensible thing then that I can think of which is to cry out to Jesus. It was rather their lightness which was necessary for the work. In that moment of crying out maybe that was an act of faith turning again to Jesus. I guess if I’ve internally aligned to God, the internal chaos is reordered and then I’m able to respond in action in a way that’s calibrated to the harmony outside of me that He wants to draw me into. And so I discover He really is God.

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    1. The following song expresses so much of this excellent, thought-provoking writing.
      “The Secret” sung by Terry Blackwood , The Imperials . It’s well-worth a listening !!

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