“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
Be still. Still. When are we ever still in our 21st century Western culture? When I think about it, often I am only still long enough to sit and take something in like, a meal, a movie, an athletic event, an article or book I am reading, or scrolling through social media posts, consuming food, ideas, information, and entertainment. When, if ever, do we press “pause,” not to sit and consume anything, but just to know? To know that He is God. To know that He is my God. To know that I am in His presence. To be still with Him.
In his book Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day By Day Peter Scazzero invites Christians into the revolutionary and life-changing practice of pausing in stillness and silence to be with the Lord-daily. He describes this practice as different than what many believers call a daily “quiet time” in which the focus is often to become “filled up” for the day. He states, “We stop our activity and turn our attention to the Living God. We heed the words of the Psalmist, ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’ (Psalm 37:7)…We choose to enter into awareness of God’s presence and to rest there in his love. That choice alone is no small feat.” It is more like just stopping to be with Jesus. To just sit with Him and enjoy His presence. To be aware of His presence. There is no other agenda! Scazzero goes on to say that what makes silence unique for us as followers of Christ is that being still and silent are components we get to choose to incorporate in the context and deepening of our relationship with the Living God. He points out that “In a posture of attentiveness and surrender we allow Him and His will access to the innermost parts of our lives. This is the very core of what it means to be in living union with him.” What treasures await as we sit with Jesus and spend time with Him!
I have been aware of Jesus’ gentle invitation to be still with Him for a while now. I have been recently aware of Him asking me, inviting me, to spend a week with Him. Although excited about this prospect, I am a wife and mom of three teenagers. How could I just skip off for a week to be with Jesus?!
Recently, I felt a tug at my heart to accompany my family on an upcoming mission trip. My husband was leading the trip, and my children, along with other students and leaders from our community, had been gearing up and planning to go for months. Not only would I have enjoyed going with them; it made sense for me to go with them! It did not make sense for me to stay home, and even seemed a little selfish for me to entertain the thought of doing so. I truly felt the Lord’s gentle persistence in letting me know that this time would be for Him and me. “Really Lord?” I asked. “How can I justify a week to myself?” He reminded me that He wasn’t asking me to spend a week alone. He was inviting me to spend it with Him! I continued to feel Him tug at my heart as the week drew closer. I thought of all kinds of activities I could accomplish during the week. I heard Him again, gently reminding me this time was for Him. As I continued to think about our time, I began to sense Him nudging me to paint! Painting is something I love to do. Making art and being creative is part of my gifting and I have pushed it down and tried hard to do more “important things” for many years. Our Heavenly Father knows us so well; He made us. He formed us. He was inviting me to spend time with Him in such an intimate way; doing something He gave me a longing for, with an ability He gave me, in order to know Him more.
I will be honest, I kept asking Him, ”Are You sure, Lord? I really need to get to those stacks in my bedroom that need to be sorted. I should be cleaning. I need to run some errands…” Nope. He wanted me to paint. I spent time in stillness and silence to hear His voice. Just sitting with Him each morning and evening-usually on our back porch while listening to His birds and enjoying His breeze while His warm sunshine bathed my feet-I was assured of His presence with me. Being assured of the presence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with me, a 21st century woman, is no small thing. In fact, it is revolutionary! Life-changing and always new with every pause. What will He invite you into? What part of your own gifting might He be inviting you to enjoy?
Practically speaking, I have been utilizing the Abide app for Christian meditation for about a year now and highly recommend it. It will guide you through being still and silent before the Lord prior to engaging with the Scripture and devotional material. You have choices of 2, 5, 15, and 30 minute pauses in the day. I especially love the sleep stories which are Scripture read aloud in a soothing tone to help you fall asleep resting in the peace of Jesus.
In closing, Peter Scazzero states, “The goal of spending time in silence is not necessarily to hear from God but to be with God. When I spend time in silence, I am not looking for guidance, though it often comes. However, I do find that God says a lot when I am quiet!…Silence and stillness with God are a foundational practice by which we actually position ourselves for God to do His transformative work in us.” He is waiting for us. He longs to be with us. No agenda. No checklist. Just be still. He is waiting.
By Jenny Ackerman, LPC