Be Still and Know

The other night I went to check on my son before going to bed. When I walked in to see him I saw he had kicked off his blankets. When I asked why, he told me he was hot. I warned him it may get cooler overnight so if he got cold to put his blanket back on. But before leaving I give him a peace of wisdom to help him relax. “Be Still,” I said “If you keep rolling around and moving you’re not going to cool down.” I knew this because I too have had to receive this same advice. On a trip to Ghana West Africa in collage I found myself in a similar situation. In a van with other students I found myself uncomfortably hot. My efforts to twist and turn in my seat to find a comfortable position we’re all in vain. Our tour guide and translator saw my failed efforts and offered one piece of advice “Be Still” she said.

I rested my back against my seat and stopped moving. Sure enough, in a few moments I started to cool down and find rest from the heat.

That moment has always stood out to me because as someone who doesn’t like to be still, I know that some seasons require it. I’ve learned that somethings can’t be accomplished with movement. Sometimes it’s best to simply be still.

Now if anyone knows how much of a challenge this can be it’s me. I’m a mover and a shaker. I like working and doing things and staying on the go. So being still, doesn’t always come easy even on a good day. And when things seem to be falling apart and not going as planned it is especially difficult not to want to get involved. Maybe you can relate.

When it appears everyone and everything is moving around you, or if it feels like the world is out of control, the last thing you want to do it be still. But stillness is exactly what God calls us to do in chaos. 

Psalm 46 tells us stillness is precisely our response. Listen to these few verses from the chapter:

“Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:2-3, 8-10 ESV)

When everything is going crazy, God does not call us to work harder and try to fix it. No, He says “be still and trust me.” There is surrender and trust that takes place in our hearts when we choose to be still and let God act first.  In order to be still the scripture informs us we must also “know” that God is, well God.

As obvious as this is, sometimes we get it confused. We start thinking and acting like we are God. We become stressed and restless when we try to control things we have no control over. One of the most freeing beliefs the Christian can come to is that we are not in control.

Like I said, we have it confused many times. We think control means safety. We work and strive to gain control of our lives (and even the lives of others) to protect, and provide for ourselves like that’s not God’s job. But no matter how much control we think we have, God has always been and will always be in control. If we want to rest in stillness and experience the peace of Christ we must understand it is not our job to be in control, but it is our job to know Who is.

We want to know the what, when, where, and why and find ourselves frustrated when we don’t have all the answers but the truth is, the answers don’t give you peace if you don’t know the Who, if you don’t know the God who gives peace.

So, if we want to be still, here are 4 truths we must know and believe about God:

  1. KNOW GOD WILL FIGHT YOUR BATTLES 

First, we need to know that God will fight out battles. Exodus 14:14 reads:

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV)

When you feel attacked, the last thing you want to do is be still. Science tells us our natural instinct is to fight or flight. Yet God tells us to be still? There will be fighting but it will come from Him, not us.

Exodus 14 shares the account of the Israelites departure (or exit) from Egypt. After years of slavery in Egypt God sent Moses to free His people. As they left, the Pharaoh sent his army after them. They found themselves with a Red Sea before them and an Egyptian army behind them. There was nowhere to flee, so the only option was to fight. But how could these only newly freed slaves battle against an Egyptian army? They couldn’t, but they didn’t have to. God would fight for them. Their only instruction was to be still.

I wonder how many battles you may be fighting right now that are not yours to fight? I wonder how many times do we become defensive and combative in vain? And it doesn’t have to be a physical battle. Maybe it’s verbal, and you’re using your words to prove or defend yourself and it’s just not necessary.

When we know God fights for us we don’t need to defend or prove ourselves. When we know God fights for us we don’t have to be afraid of what we don’t have. When we know God fights for us we don’t have to enter battles never meant for us to fight in the first place. We don’t have to feel backed into a corner because God Himself will provide a way out and grant us His victory.

  1. KNOW WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU IS FOR YOU

Next, you need to know what God has for you is for you. Psalm 37:7 tells us:

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalms 37:7 ESV)

If there is one thing that keeps us busy and stops us from being still it is running after what someone else has. Not minding your own blessings and fretting over what someone else has will cause us to miss out on how blessed we are. We’ll find ourselves running a race never meant for us to run.

When we think of a race all the runners are headed in the same direction with the same goal. But what’s not the same is the lane they run in. And if the runners at any point in the race cross over into another runner’s lane they are disqualified.

As Christians our goal is the same; Jesus. We’re all called to follow Him and live out the specific call He’s placed on our lives. The Bible tells us we were thought of before the creation of the world. God planned for you and has a plan for you. Our finishing our race well is not based on doing what you think is better than the Christian beside you. It’s simply staying in your lane and staying focused the entire way. 

But when we fret with what someone else has or does, we disqualify ourselves from finishing well. We need to know that just because your lane looks different doesn’t mean it’s not good. Our walks with Christ should look different. God clearly desires diversity or else He would not have made us all so different. He wouldn’t desire heaven to filled with people from every “tribe, nation, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9 ESV)

Just like you are different, so is the journey God has you on. You may be doing something similar to someone else, but how you get to your destinations maybe completely different and that’s all part of God’s plan. Just because you experience and current situation doesn’t look like someone else’s doesn’t mean you are off course. It means you are living in the specific lane God has for you. When we trust God’s plan for our life we can be still in knowing we’re headed in the right direction.

  1. KNOW THAT GOD GOES BEFORE YOU, SO DON’T GET AHEAD OF HIM

Next, to be still we must know that God goes before us so we don’t need to get ahead of Him. Once we’re running in our own lane it’s even just as important to run the pace God has for us. Many times we want to rush to the destination avoiding any stops along the way. But what may seem to be an inconvenient stop for us maybe God’s purpose for us to rest. Psalm 23:2 tells us:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” (Psalms 23:2 ESV)

It’s difficult to be still when we feel like life is moving at a snails speed. So we rush, avoiding rest to get where we want to go faster (so we think). However, just like highways have rest stops, so do our lives. Sometimes God calls us to seasons of stillness to rest, reset, and refocus so we can refuel for the journey ahead. Unfortunately, sometimes we give into the temptation to avoid stillness thinking we can accomplish more if we just keep going, if we lose a little more sleep, if we hustle a little more harder. Yet, this was never God’s plan. We were designed to rest and God did not design rest to set us back but to propel us forward.

Our rushing is actually a sign of mistrust in God. We have relied on our own efforts so we feel we can’t stop. But when we know God has ordered every one of our steps, even when it’s time to stop, we can safely exit the crazy hamster wheel of life and embrace seasons of rest for what they are: ordained by God. We then will see that God can do more in our stillness than we could ever do in our hustle.

  1. KNOW THAT GOD’S PRESENCE IS IN STILLNESS 

Last, to be still we need to know that it is in stillness that we find God’s presence. In I Kings 19 we find the prophet Elijah frustrated and tired. He’s forgotten that God will fight for him, he’s forgotten to stay in his own lane, and has ran ahead of God’s plan for him and now he is tired and empty.

Once he stops running and fretting God called Elijah into His presence and speaks to him. Just want Elijah needed during this time. Listen to how God comes to Elijah in I Kings 19:11-12:

“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (I Kings 19:11-12 NKJV)

I think God shows this contrast between the strong winds and breaking mountains to His still small voice to make a very important point we all need to understand; God is not always found in the hustle, busy, and loud as some may think.

His presence asks not for a still life because I can imagine how busy life maybe for you but for a still soul, one not worried by the pace of life or rushed by the opinion of others. One not blinded by the runners to their left or right but satisfied with what God has for them.

Stillness should not be avoided but embraced because it’s when we calm our souls and answer the call to focus less on doing and more on simply being we find God.

So to help you embrace the discipline of being still here are 5 ways to do so using the acronym S.T.I.L.L.

“S” stands for surrender. First we must surrender. Give your plans to God and stop trying to do everything yourself. Embrace God’s plan and the pace He has set for your life.

“T” stands for talk to God in prayer. When we receive direction from God because we are in communication with Him, we won’t become distracted with all the advice from the world that may leave us confused and feeling like we must do all the things. One word from God may be just what we need to be still and find out way.

“I” stands for identify who we are in Christ. When we know who we are in Christ, we don’t have to worry about what others are doing or look like. We can stop striving to be something we are not and calmly embrace the beauty of who Christ made us.

“L” stands for look to the example of  Christ. Even Christ who was God took moments of stillness, prayer, and solitude. He set the example that stillness would be important for us as well.

The last “L” stands for learn contentment. When we’ve accepted what God has for us we won’t waste time hustling for something that might not be for us in the first place. I’m not saying don’t dream for more. I’m saying if we never find contentment where we are we’ll always be looking for the next best thing. Contentment grants us the space to be thankful and calm no matter where we are on our journeys.

I hope today’s message has encouraged you to embrace stillness and know it is a good gift from God for our souls. I’d love to chat more so please comment below and let me know, how are you embracing stillness in this season of life?

Find more encouragement from Christina Patterson at www.belovedwomen.org.

Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.