I was speaking on Psalm 46 a few weeks ago, mostly on “Be Still and Know that I am God.” I thought it would be a good idea to make sure that all the ladies I was speaking to had a shared understanding of what stillness actually is, so we turned to the dictionary.
The KJV Dictionary says this:
- Freedom from noise or motion; calmness; quiet; silence; as the stillness of the night, the air or the sea.
- Freedom from agitation or excitement;
I wrote my whole talk, including this section where I had planned for the ladies to stop and talk about other words we could use to describe stillness, like hushed, serene, tranquil, or inactive – and opposite kinds of words too, like anxious, disturbed, agitated, noisy, fussed, distracted, clamoured…
Right before I was about to speak, I read my notes back over and noticed something I had missed altogether. Did you catch the word that repeated in the definition? I hadn’t seen it the first seven or eight times I looked at it! It was like my eye bounced right over it and I almost missed it.
Stillness is freedom.
It’s right there at the start of each definition, yet I nearly missed it!
Being still before God is choosing to enter into freedom from the worry, anxiety, pressure and noise that would steal my peace.
And, I use that term “choosing” very intentionally, because stillness for me is HARD and entering into it requires a choice. It feels like it shouldn’t, but it does.
In my mind, there’s a kind of stillness math that basically boils down to this equation:
Physical Stillness + Mental Stillness + Emotional Stillness = Spiritual Stillness
I’m bad at this kind of math! Usually, this is how this plays out for me. First, I get myself physically still, but as soon as I’m ready for some quality quiet time with the Lord, and my body is still, my brain will suddenly decide its time to download. I’ll start wondering whether I locked the door, I’ll remember that I was supposed to buy milk and call for an appointment, and if given enough space, I’ll move to bigger things – like problem solving and life planning.
I’ve also discovered that staying very active either physically or mentally keeps my brain from having to process anything emotionally, so if I do actually get to a point of being physically and mentally still, I’m suddenly emotionally aware too – and stillness remains a step beyond my grasp.
I genuinely believe that stillness is intended to be freedom – to release the cares of the world and enter into fellowship with God – but it is also a discipline that takes practice and intentionality.
If you are struggling to be still – either physically, mentally or emotionally, consider practicing being still. There are lots of ways to start. Try simply sitting and being silent. If silence is hard at first, try playing worship music very softly in the background. Take several deep breaths. Be aware of the quiet. Be mindful to not allow your to-do list to start yelling at you.
If doing a more guided exercise would be helpful, consider trying this… In his book 24/6: A prescription for a Heathier, Happier Life, Dr. Matthew Sleeth suggests a meditation using the words of Psalm 46:10. You begin by saying the whole line, and then remove one word at a time until you come to the last word.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know that I.
Be still and know that.
Be still and know.
Be still and.
Don’t rush through this. Allow your mind to slowly embrace stillness with each line, and when you finish the meditation just sit and enjoy a moment of simply being.
Do you have a strategy for quieting your heart and mind and embracing stillness? Please share it here or jump over and join our facebook group to join in the discussion and to see an affiliate link for Dr. Sleeth’s book. We are here to support and encourage one another!