“An article for my church, Village Church of Lincolnshire”
What if it was a requirement? The one thing that seems to be impossible for us? The one thing we fill our day and thoughts in order to fight against? What if it was a requirement to know God?
The psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psa. 46:10) What if it takes us being still to know that God is in control and at work in the world? Most of us would end up living anxious lives stressing over the small and big questions of life. We would live with doubt-heavy questions. We would do anything to hide from the realization that we don’t know God’s presence.
This week we’ve been sucked into a hectic maze of people, issues, ideas, and values. Battle lines keep getting drawn. We try to sort things out. We try to put it in order, but our thoughts, worries and concerns pull us here and there. And God’s voice gets lost in the noise.
The Voices Are Louder
The sad thing is, we’ve lived in this world long enough that the voices that distract us are most often in our own heads. These are the voices that haunt us in the middle of the night. These voices give of us lists of things we must not forget. Or they remind us of how we fail. They create doubt about what God is doing or wants to do in the world.
The voices are so loud that some of us now have apps on our phones that play white-noise through the headphones. This is the banal hissing that you get when an old radio can’t find a station. It’s a noise that covers noise. That’s how loud the noise is around us and in us, that for some semblance of peace, we need a noise that covers the noise.
But, what if stillness was a requirement? What if it takes stillness and quietness to know God? How could we ever find that stillness?
THE WAY TO STILLNESS
1) We must intentionally take a step back. Take a walk. Take a breath. Don’t live with such urgency, as if our panic will push God to action. We aren’t inconsequential, but neither are our thoughts and efforts essential to God fulfilling his work in the world. Before any of us were here, his Spirit hovered over the waters. He still hovers.
2) We must strive to understand that the noise isn’t us. We can put our thoughts down because in the Lord is our trust. Our trust isn’t in our understanding of God and his ways. “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul,” David wrote. (Psa. 131:1-2)
3) Embrace and pursue silence. It’s only when we quiet our own minds and shush the voices outside of us, that we will hear God’s voice and know his presence. Turn off the noise of 24 hour news. Turn off social media. Turn off empty conversations. Don’t just try to mask it with better thoughts. But turn it off. Here’s a good discipline. Refuse to have an opinion on a matter. Refuse to make a statement.
Do you wonder how saints of the past seemed to know God in ways we can only imagine? They endured with joy. They trusted without anxiety. Their world was much quieter. And some who knew the oppression of inward voices, had the faith to pursue stillness with all they had, so they could know the Lord.
Stillness is required. “Be still and know that I am the God.” I am praying for and pursuing more stillness. I pray you will to.