Lay Down Your Weapons and Be Still.

My third born child is funny. He’s funny on purpose now, but when he was little, he hadn’t learned to harness his superpower yet and so he was just funny.

At the ripe old age of three, he learned Bible verses in his Sunday School class. They memorized the words of the verse, but not the location. They were just little. The verse words were enough! Reciting verses got him LOTS of attention. One day he was with my mom and recited his verse of the week. She said to him “Oh, sweetie, that was wonderful. Was it taken from the Bible?”

No word of a lie, he looked at her with a horrified expression and sputtered “No, Grandma… It’s still in there!”

(I can’t make this stuff up!)

My past few posts have been based on a message I delivered on Psalms 46 last month. I really wanted to only speak on Psalm 46:10, “Be Still and know that I am God…” but every time I sat down to prep my talk, that silly memory verse story came to my mind and I seriously kept hearing his three-year-old voice reminding me that this verse wasn’t taken from the Bible… “it’s still in there”.

So… I decided that I’d better be sure to understand more than just 8 words before I started to speak – and I did some serious study on the whole Psalm in context. In fact, I got myself totally twisted up and confused and sideways trying to make sense of all the commentaries. What I learned is that while this verse is often just used as a call to quiet reflection and communion with God, the really smart scholars will tell you, it’s about much more than that.

In my mind, I wanted to just talk about being still, but the verse in context calls for more! In fact, it’s actually a call not just to quiet, but to a laying down of weapons – on GotQuestions.org its explained like this:

“ this is a call for those involved in the war to stop fighting, to be still. The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning “to slacken, let down, or cease.” In some instances, the word carries the idea of “to drop, be weak, or faint.” It connotes two people fighting until someone separates them and makes them drop their weapons. It is only after the fighting has stopped that the warriors can acknowledge their trust in God. Christians often interpret the command to “be still” as “to be quiet in God’s presence.” While quietness is certainly helpful, the phrase means to stop frantic activity, to let down, and to be still. For God’s people being “still” would involve looking to the Lord for their help; for God’s enemies, being “still” would mean ceasing to fight a battle they cannot win.”

Hmmm… a stopping of frantic activity

Hmmmm…. looking to the Lord for help

I’m not in a physical war and I’m not fighting a physical battle, but I will tell you that I often seem to be frantic and I see lots of other frantic people around me! And I’m not always quick to look to the Lord for help.

I also tend to want to fight – if not against people or God directly – I’m inclined to fight against my circumstances. I’m a problem solver – and I’m sure that some of you are the same. I love a good problem to solve – and it can be mine or someone else’s. I’m becoming more and more aware that I sometimes even step in and fight on behalf of others against circumstances that God intended for a purpose – and for their good.

Now, I’m not saying that we should never fight circumstances – for ourselves or others. I’m not suggesting that stillness needs to ALWAYS be our response – I don’t think scripture suggests it either. God sometimes calls us to action. If he’s called you to Nineveh, don’t go sit under a tree to be still! If he has told you to march around a city gate, march around the gate. Sometimes Jesus healed with a word, sometimes he told the person to go and DO something.

Do what God calls you to do – sometimes that’s an action. But, scripture also reminds us that sometimes we need only be still because God wants to fight for us. Its not just Psalm 46 calling us to be still. Psalm 37:7 says to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Exodus 14:14 says the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.

In my right, healthy, and well brain, I know that I’d rather have God fight for me… In the moment, when I see the battle or challenge or problem though, it can be HARD to trust and be still and wait patiently for Him.

I think it’s important that we pray for discernment to know when to fight and when to lay down our weapons be still. I’m curious, how often I fought my circumstances and missed the blessing of God being my comfort and my strength in the midst of the circumstance instead. How often when I felt too exhausted to go on, but kept going anyway, was God really calling me into rest (and I missed it!).

Can you relate? Leave a comment or join us of Facebook to discuss.

(The other blog posts from my Psalm 46 talk can be found here and here.)

Stillness Defined – with a little bonus math!

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:

STILLNESS, n.

  1. Freedom from noise or motion; calmness; quiet; silence; as the stillness of the night, the air or the sea.
  2. 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.

Be still.

Be.

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!

 

The formula for successful stillness

Be still and know that I am God.

I have been giving a whole lot of thought to these eight words from Psalm 46 over the past few weeks – and I think I may have stumbled across something I likely should have always known! God gives us a formula for successful stillness in the words “Be Still and Know that I am God.”

Can you see it?

We can be still BECAUSE we know that GOD IS GOD.

We can rest because God is God.

We can find peace.

We can stop striving.

We can just be… 

Because God is God. 

Let’s look at Psalm 46 together for a minute (copied from Bible Gateway – click on the link to visit Bible Gateway directly).

Psalm 46[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

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.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Looking at the Psalm, we see that the people were called to be still despite the earth giving way, the mountains falling, or the nations going into an uproar and kingdoms falling. How on earth is anyone supposed to be still when the world is literally falling apart around them?

I haven’t personally lived through a significant natural disaster, but despite feeling distanced from physical realities, I have had lots of times in my life that felt like the ground had shifted under my feet and all my stability was gone. My dad’s death and my divorce come to mind immediately! But, even challenges on a much smaller scale can knock the wind out of me and leave me feeling shaken. Looking back, I’m curious, how often I personally have missed the blessing of God being my comfort and my strength because I forget in the midst of the chaos who God is.

Before the Psalmist tells us to “Be still and know that God is God” – he tells and reminds us about who God is:

God is our refuge (v. 1)

He is our strength (v. 1)

He is an ever present help in trouble (v. 1)

He is with us (v. 7 & 11)

He is the God of Jacob, and our fortress (v. 7 & 11)

He is exalted among the earth and the nations (v. 10)

My wandering and distractable heart sure needs reminding!

Are you Struggling to find stillness? Struggling to find real rest in God? Take a moment to remember who God is. He really is our refuge, our strength and our help. We can be still BECAUSE of who God is.

Let’s take a minute to remind ourselves and encourage one another about exactly who God is. Do you have a favourite verses that describes God’s character? One of my favourites is Psalm 68 – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Share your favourites in the comments or over in our Facebook group. Let’s be people who remember and people who encourage!