"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10I bet the psalmist needed to hear God command him to be still. He probably wouldn't be still on his own. He wouldn't do it until he knew it was necessary for his soul. I think I understand.
My friend, Sammy Williams, who is a pastor a little older, wiser, and more experienced than I am called me a few weeks ago, soon after my Sabbatical began. "It will take three weeks," he said. He continued with something like this: 'For three weeks, you'll think about the church most days. You'll wonder what they're doing, what the service was like, how's attendance, giving and other metrics. Who's upset. What decisions are being made. Who needs care. But if you commit to your Sabbatical and focus on what God wants you to do, it will stop. After three weeks, you'll start to be still.'
Truth be told, it took me a little more than a month. I doubted Sammy a little. For the first few weeks, most days I still found a lot of anxiety in my soul. There is the constant drumbeat of 'what's next' and 'how can you out-do last weekend' and 'how are we going to solve this problem' and 'what is the next hill we're going to climb' and 'how are we going to climb it.'
But I followed Sammy's advice. For the most part, I didn't give into the voice that had, for so long, ruled my waking thoughts. I knew God had something new and really good for me if I would wait and be patient. And then, I heard it. Not some new calling or a new direction to take the church. I didn't hear God tell me to move to the jungle and become a missionary. I didn't hear him tell me anything new to accomplish. But I did hear God speak. It was new to me, because mostly I've felt God telling me what to do. This was more like God reminding me of who I am, and, more importantly, who He is.
This is the voice of God that can only come when you are finally, completely still. Not simply sitting still, but still on the inside. I couldn't get still on the inside - deep in my soul - without stepping away for an extended time. Now I can feel my spirit really rest. I've physically been resting. But now I'm resting through and through.
I think about my computer. I leave the thing on all the time. I run programs, pull up files, open and close windows. This goes on hundreds of times in a week. After a while, the thing get's slower and slower and starts to hang up more and more frequently. All the clutter of the constant execution and review causes the processor to need a shut down and a fresh re-start.
I think that's what 'being still' is like. In the past, I'd try to 'reboot' by closing most of the windows. I'd go away for 3 days, try not to think about most things. That helps. But a true re-boot means that I have to shut down entirely. Then I have to wait - let the screen go dark and the processor cool off. Then, after I'm sure it's all quiet, I can hit the power button and boot up again.
I'm finally in that spot where I'm still. The processor is off. The screen is blank. I'm still. I feel like God has led me beside still and peaceful waters.
The picture above is the sunset we saw tonight right off the beach. It captures a lot of what I feel is happening inside of me. It's pure, still, powerful, and not 'of me' in any way. It doesn't depend on me at all. Frankly, it feels good. It feels confident and reassured and alive. And the sun rises and sets every day without any input or work on my part at all. Tomorrow, it will happen again - with or without me. I'm an afterthought. I'm nothing compared to who God is and my work is nothing compared to what God can do.
I needed to come to this place, be put in my place, in order to find my place.
Now I'm still. And I know anew that He is God.