Sit still, my daughter. Ruth 3:18 NKJV
My personal paraphrase of Ruth 3:18 is precious to me. God spoke to me and said, “Sit still, My daughter, the apple of My eye, waiting as long as it takes, until you learn (know, perceive, understand, discern, and distinguish as truth) how the matter, thing, question, or cause will turn out, because surely the Man Christ Jesus, your Kinsman-Redeemer, will not by any means be idle, or silent, or have any peace until He finishes His purposes, working until the job is done, in His eternal now.”
Why is being still such an un-American activity? Many years ago my daughter Elizabeth was asking the same question. Read her story about learning to be still.
Come with me to a beautiful Saturday morning in October. I am at a retreat center in the mountains. The weather is crisp, the sky is pure blue, and the sun is beaming. The day before I had spotted two swings overlooking a lake with the mountains in full fall colors as the backdrop. My soul and spirit, hungry for time alone with God, knew there was the perfect place for time with Him. The announcement was made, “Go outside and spend 45 minutes alone with God.” As the assignment was being given, I got into my racer’s blocks waiting for the start gun. Why? Because I had to be the first one to the swing by the lake so I could have a meaningful time with God, of course. As the group split, I overheard several girls say, “Hey, let’s go to the lake where the swings are.” Immediate sirens went off and a red flag raised… they can’t go to the swing… that’s where I’m supposed to be! All of a sudden, the mission was clear: get to the swings first! The closer I came to the lake, the more focused I became. My pace was intense, my joy fleeting, and winning was all that was important.
As I approached the lake, I was almost in a full gallop. The swing was on the opposite side of the lake from me. The girls made a foolish error by going to the left. Ha ha! So I quickly dashed off to the right to make it around the lake first. If we only had a instant replay, you would see me as I ran around the lake. I rushed right past a small white chapel. I flew past a wooden cross on the shore. I jumped onto the swing feeling good about my victory, but too wound up from the competition to be still and know that He is God.
As I sat there trying to catch my breath, it hit me. “This is what your life is like. You’re wrapped up in getting things accomplished, even good things, and you’re relying on your flesh and power most of the time for insignificant victories, all the while missing what’s important.”
Then I looked back around the lake and saw that in trying to be in control, I had missed things God had wanted me to stop and see along the way… the white chapel (faith), the cross (everlasting hope), and the gift of still time with the Savior sitting on a swing (love). It didn’t take me long to catch the reference. The words of 1 Corinthians 13 came ringing at me, “But the greatest of these is faith, hope, and love.”
John Piper says that as he approaches the Word of God, he prays for the gift of reading slowly, to truly hear God in His Word. That is my own desire, but I would take it a step further and pray that God would give me the gift to live life slowly. I want to hear God not just in sections of my day marked “Time alone with God,” but when He decides to speak in unexpected times and unique ways, I want my soul and spirit not to be racing around the lake but instead be in a place of continual stillness on the swing, so that I might drink deeply of what He has prepared to show me.
It sounds pretty on paper. And it is the longing of my spirit, and yet it is a daily, more like hourly, battle to embrace quiet. Since my theology lesson on the swing that day, I have been experimenting with stillness, solitude, and silence. I am realizing how addicted I am to activity and noise. I understand why David had to command his soul to be still and know that He is God. Being quiet is difficult, and almost impossible for some. But I have discovered that my soul and spirit have been starving for stillness for a long time. Now that I have given my soul a taste of stillness again, it will not be satisfied unless it is a regular part of my day. Will you take 15 minutes to just sit and be quiet? (Driving a car with your cell phone turned off doesn’t count.) I mean so quiet and still that you can hear the clock tick. And just sit, look, listen, and remember what it’s like to be still.
Will you take the challenge to “Be still and know that I am God?” Will you take some time to sit and quiet your soul before the Lord? Ask God how He wants to meet you in His presence. Meditate on these “be still” verses.
Be still and see the salvation of the Lord. Exodus 14:13-14
Be still by the side of the Lord. Exodus 33:21
Be still so you won’t miss the great things God is doing. 1 Samuel 12:16, Job 37:14
Stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 20:17
Be still. It’s the antidote to fretting. Psalm 37:7
Be still and know He is God. Psalm 46:10
Be still before the Lord. Zechariah 2:13a
Let Jesus rebuke your storms, “Peace, be still.” Mark 4:39
From Prayer Essentials For Living In His Presence, Vol 2, page 81-82. © 2000 Sylvia Gunter. Click here to purchase a copy of this book. An archive of past devotionals is available on the website www.thefathersbusiness.com