In Pursuit of Stillness

“Be still, and know that I am God;” (Psalm 46:10 a)

There are times I hearken back to the days when I was a child. Summer was the best of times for me. I spent most of it barefoot, playing with my siblings and friends; all the while exploring and inventing imaginary games of adventure and fun. School would be out for the Summer, and other than a few chores, I had no real responsibilities to contend with. My parents wisely recognized the importance of play and unstructured time for kids.

On warm Summer days when it became too hot to play, I would often scamper up an old car tire that we had leaning against a massive trunk of a stately Silver Maple that resided in our backyard.

From the tire, I would reach up to grab hold of the lowest limb, from there I would swing up onto the huge limbs that offered shade from the hot rays of the midday sun. The branches were so big that I could easily lay back comfortably, resting by body much like I was sitting in a large wooden lounge chair.

With it’s branches dressed in shimmering leaves that stirred  gently in response to the touch of the warm afternoon breezes, I would lay nestled securely under the massive canopy of greenery.

The warm summer air would often draw me into a sleepy dreamlike state. It  would be then that I would find myself entranced,  staring upwards as I would lay on my back watching the occasional birds bounding and chirping from one branch to another.

In those moments, all would be well in my world; there were no worries, I found myself awash  in a state of blissful peace.

I believe God originally intended for us to live our lives without the worries and anxieties that we’re routinely faced with today. Sadly, when humanity fell, the Evil One stole from us the security and peace that was once intended.

Since then, we’ve continued to trade God for a world filled with stuff, worries, busyness, and the constant concerns of life. We’re fed a steady diet of news, piped directly to us at every moment of the day. Most of the news is bad. But Evil sells, so we have lots of bad news.

Even as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, one would think I would be able to steer clear of the worry and stresses of this life, but there are times where I manage to allow myself to become gradually sucked into an abyss of worry. I recently heard a pastor share that “tomorrow is God’s realm and not ours.”  What a simple but profound thought.

In reality, worry is a symptom of misplaced trust, or more accurately, lack of trust in the only One for whom any trust should be given. Jesus.

Jesus said that He came so that you and I might live out our lives to the full. (John 10:10) He did not say we should live out our lives in a state of stress and worry.

Admittedly, I toil to live my life to the full. Often I allow the noises and worries of this life to drown out the gentle voice of my Lord. At times, I’m so busy trying to tackle the struggles of this life, that I don’t always savor the moments of fullness that Jesus wants me to have.

I am reminded that I am but an imperfect person, born in an imperfect world. Because we live in this fallen state, I cannot hope to live my current life as fully as I will one day be able to in Heaven. Yet Jesus has given us a little taste of where all of this is going. When He came, He did so to set the stage for his final return.

In the meantime, I need to take the advice of the Psalmist who shared a simple but direct message from our Heavenly Father; “be still and know that I am God.”

While I can’t fully disconnect from our world, that’s not realistic in our current imperfect state;  I can consciously and intentionally elect to carve out part of my day and spend it with Jesus.

The choice is ours to figure out  in terms of when and how. But I know for me it’s been a priority to turn off my connectivity for part of each day, to spend that time in prayer, to read my Bible, to meditate upon Scripture, or consider a devotion.

Furthermore, with God’s help, I have learned that I need to keep on surrendering my burdens to Jesus, (Matthew 11:28 ) because I cannot carry them myself.

But the most important pursuit in my walk with the Lord is to “be still.” Allowing me to hear Him speak to my heart, secure my mind, and bring a divine peace to my soul that only God can provide.

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