Friday, May 29, 2009

I Am Still

I am still

Psalms 46:10-11" Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (NIV)

"No more laughing, no more fun; Quaker meeting has begun!"

With those words, my young cousins and I pasted deadpan expressions on our faces. Lips clamped tightly shut as we silently vowed not to utter a word or crack a smile. The object of the game was to see who could keep still the longest.

I'm not sure where the game originated. We played it often as we sat on the back porch of my Mennonite Grandmother's home on a Sunday afternoon while our parents visited in the parlor. Because Sunday was a day of rest, we weren't permitted to play active outdoor games like tag or hide and seek. Instead, we contented ourselves with board games like Chinese Checkers and quiet indoor contests.

Inevitably, our Quaker meeting game only lasted a moment or two as the giggles attacked. We usually ended up laughing so hard, one of the adults would cast a frown in our direction to remind us to be quiet on the Lord's Day.

Being still was difficult for me as a child and that never changed as I grew into an adult. Each time God spoke the words to my heart, "Be still and know I am God," I would paste a reverent expression on my face and quiet my heart.

But just like our childhood game, the stillness didn't last as my mind began to whirl with worries. "Will God really do what I've asked Him?" "What should I do about this situation?" I conjured up a thousand reasons why I ought to step in and try to solve the problem myself because I lacked trust in the sovereignty of my heavenly Father.

It was easier to do things myself rather than to sit idly by and wait on Him. This attitude of controlling busyness originated from my inner fear that somehow I wasn't good enough for God to guide, protect or provide for me.

I wish I could point to a specific instance where God finally broke through and taught me to be still, but the truth is, I'm still working on the issue of being still before Him and trusting Him fully.

Whenever I feel the old controlling mechanisms kick in, I have to consciously stop what I'm doing and manually work at changing the way I react. I try to lay the situation out before God and ask for His help so I can wait patiently before Him for the answer.

Sometimes I have to do it several times a day because my heart wants to revert right back to worry mode. During those times, I do what I know to do - I place scriptures in plain sight and stop to focus on Him and His words frequently. I pray a lot - exposing my willful desire to solve the problem in my own feeble strength. Then I make a conscious effort to still my mind and focus on Him so I can hear what He is saying with His still small voice.

My cousins and I couldn't "be still" for very long as we played our childhood Quaker Meeting game. But with His help, today I am learning to quiet the anxieties of my heart and to be still in His presence.

Father God, I know I'm not alone in this. So many around me are suffering from anxieties and worry born of the inability to trust You fully. Help us to work each day to focus our eyes and hearts on You - to relinquish our need to control our lives. Help us to learn to be still and KNOW You are God, our strength and fortress. Amen.

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