Reframing What it Means to “Be Still”

As a person prone to anxiety, quieting myself before the Lord can be one of my biggest challenges. It somehow feels easier to “do” and get things accomplished than to sit and quiet my mind. Yet there’s something about stilling myself before the Lord that can’t be replicated. It allows me a moment to breathe…in…and…out. Inhaling his Spirit. Exhaling the burdens. It’s in these spaces I give him a chance to be heard over all the noise, all the doing.

Often when I find myself in dry seasons, I realize I’ve had trouble stilling myself. I can easily go through the motions of devotion time with the Lord without actually settling my mind.

Psalm 46: 10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” That sounds so sweet and serene, doesn’t it? But it’s not some cushy recommendation, it’s a command. If we widen the lens a bit, we’ll see that this verse sits near the end of a Psalm, a song if you will. It would have been sung by the worshipping community of the day. It begins with:

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

verses 1-3 (NIV)

If you continue on, you will see this Psalm is about a people who felt afraid, who feared war and destruction.  It’s a Psalm about trusting in God’s power and might, about not giving in to anxiety because he is the Lord Almighty. When it comes to, “Be still, and know that I am God,” it is not a suggestion. In the original Hebrew, it is a command.

Quiet yourself. Calm yourself. Pay attention!

See and know that he is God. Breathe in and out, knowing he is above everything that comes our way, realizing he will have the final victory. It’s allowing for a moment of reverence. “Silence before God shows reverence.”1 Having reverence for the Lord isn’t about being afraid of him, but it is about exalting him to his proper place and framing ourselves within ours. He is the King of Kings, God Almighty, God-of-Angel-Armies2. And it is because of God being in his proper place, Maker of heaven and earth, Sustainer, Protector, Helper, Comforter, that we don’t have to fear. It is because of who God is that we can breathe, that we can be still.

I can always find something to worry about. Some days life disappoints, and I feel my chest tighten at my inability to control. But Psalm 46 invites us to something more. It invites us to something better. Come, bow down at the feet of our Savior God, still your mind from your worries, and know the God-Most-High still sits on his thrown. Somehow exalting him seems to put things back into perspective.

Though the earth give way and the mountains fall, we need not fear.  

1 NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible
2 The Message Translation phrases “The Lord Almighty” as “God-of-Angel-Armies” in verse 7.

Think of These Things

I came home the other night from a full day of work, rushing to kids’ activities, both body and mind exhausted. Then I stepped into my backyard that evening and couldn’t help but feel a sense of complete gratitude. 

Birds fluttered and danced across the yard. Hues of pink and orange began to streak across wispy clouds. Fragrant lilac was being carried by the breeze. Neighborhood kids could be heard in the distance giggling and chattering together. 

A stroll out to my little garden revealed bright white flowers speckling my strawberry bed. Pops of green and purple lettuce greeted me. Happy little peas began to grab hold of their trellis. Tiny zinnia seeds began to push their way through the dirt. 

My mundane backyard was transformed into Eden. 

I could have chosen to dwell on the fatigue my body felt or the annoyance my son stirred up in me that afternoon or the neverending to-do list I couldn’t seem to make much ground on. But that day, I didn’t. 

Some days I inevitably do give in to that grumbling spirit and I go down the path of “woe is me.” Every now and then we need to feel all the feels. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging what is hard or stressful, and it is perfectly okay to have legitimate seasons of grief or lament (we’ve talked about that in What To Do With All The Feels: A Lesson On Lament). 

But regardless of the season in which I find myself, whether fast and chaotic, slow and boring, the perfect happy-medium, or especially trying, God is developing in me this constant need to dwell on that which is good and lovely and excellent. 

Finally, brother and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

I make choices about the content I allow to enter my mind: 

Too much news produces anxiety; The Dick VanDyke Show makes me laugh. 

A little bit of HGTV can spark creativity; too much can produce a spirit of discontent. 

However, that’s only part of the equation. Consciously taking time to see all the good and right and admirable in the day-to-day becomes life changing. 

Our perspective changes things. The lens with which we view our day changes our approach. Therefore, more and more, I am trying to find those places and moments of seeing God’s hand or artistry in my daily routine. 

The kindness displayed by an encouraging co-worker. 

Sentimental words from my daughter: “you’re the best mom ever.”

The sweet tune of the goldfinches as a thank you note for their thistle.

Vibrant blue hydrangea waiting to say hello outside my front door. 

A family that still comes together for dinner in the evening. 

The wonder on my son’s face as he discovers a new stone.

A quiet moment with just my Bible, journal, and a HOT cup of coffee.

You can tell I’m a small-town girl moved by nature, but for you it could be entirely different. 

Instead, maybe it’s: 

The smell from the corner bakery. 

The neighbors who congregate every evening in the shared greenspace. 

The familiar hustle of people rushing home after work. 

The intricate stone architecture on the church the next block over. 

A breezy stroll in the neighborhood fruit market where each vendor knows you by name.

Whatever it is that brings us joy, wherever we live and with whom we interact, we can grab hold of those nuggets of glory. 

There is power in the thoughts on which we dwell. These thoughts, constantly sprinkled through the day and week, change us. They shape our view of life. They draw us closer to the heart of the Father and ultimately mold us to be a little more like Him. 

Share your nuggets of glory with me! Where did you see God in your day? What moments brought you joy?