Stay Still

Think of yourself just as a seed patiently waiting in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking.

C. S. Lewis

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

For the last few weeks I have been working an extra temporary job to help save up for a car. One day I was trying to focus on the work, which can be tedious, but my mind was flying in every direction. I was going over all the things that needed doing and bills that needed paying and trying to figure out how to get it all done. There should have been a blue circle over my head going around and around. I couldn’t get my mind to stay still.

Sometimes the busyness of this world can overwhelm us with things we think we should do or worrying about might ifs. The story of Martha is often the story of us. Jesus was in the house, and she was in the kitchen. She was missing out on the best part of life doing what was expected of her by society, being a good host, instead of enjoying her company. Jesus doesn’t call us to do what the world expects; He calls us to be obedient to him. Sometimes that means to just be still.

41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:41-42

The funny thing is Jesus’ list is a lot shorter than the one the world tries to give us. His goal is not necessarily being more productive as much as it is being closer to Him. Now, we all have jobs to do, but sometimes we take on work that isn’t ours. We either try to do things that God didn’t call us to, or we try to do his job. In the Mary and Martha story, Jesus says that Mary has chosen the one needful thing, which was being in His presence. If we take the time to sit at His feet, we often find the To Do List is shorter than we thought.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Jesus calls us to work alongside Him. When we do that, He takes the bulk of the weight for himself, but sometimes we try to take over. For instance, when I started worrying about the future, I was taking on His job and it is too much for me because I wasn’t made for that position. God doesn’t want us to work ourselves to death; He wants us to rest. He even set aside a day for it.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

When we take the time to wait upon the Lord, we are renewed. The word “wait” has a few connotations. The first is to wait upon the Lord like Mary did by sitting at His feet, to take a moment to be still. Another meaning is to wait for His guidance and timing. Finally, there is the idea of waiting on Him like a servant, or being obedient to His commands. When we wait on the Lord, our lives are much more enjoyable and satisfying because we are doing what we were meant to do, but it all started with being still.

Unplugged

When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.

Billy Graham

Just about everyone knows that if you are having issues with a piece of electronic equipment that if you unplug it and plug it back in, it will usually reset. The same principle works for humans. We are often told to unplug from social media or electronics to reset ourselves. For me, it was not about the electronics but about remembering to take a break when I needed it.

I set myself a tough deadline for October, and I was doing pretty well, partially because I would take breaks. When the deadline started approaching, I felt I needed to double-up. I started getting more done but it also wasn’t my best work. This past week I developed a tic in one eye and an attitude, a clear sign I needed a break but I thought if I just push through this week, I will be done, and then I can take a break. Yet, if I looked at the schedule, there wasn’t really going to be a break in the next two months with other projects and the holidays approaching. But, I pushed on.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Colossians 3:17

Then, a little storm called Zeta dropped on my doorstep. The wind and the rain blew and blew, keeping me up half the night. The power went out, but I got up and went to work, expecting the power to be back on when I got home. It was not. I had a bit of a melt down with anxiety because I was tired and the alarm system was beeping because of a dying battery but not the kind of battery you can remove, and I couldn’t reach the company because it was after hours. Add to that my phone, my one access to the world, was dying and running out of minutes. I reached out in desperation to a couple of people.

My best friend suggested plugging my phone charger into my laptop which was fully charged. She also said her alarm system, which is the same as mine, eventually quit beeping. The phone charging suggestion worked; however, the beeping was still unnerving me. A writer friend suggested putting in ear plugs and going to bed (Read his thoughts on burnout by clicking on the link below). At first I thought I can’t do that because I don’t have ear plugs, but then I remembered that my sister had gotten me some headphones last year that I had barely used and my Kindle Fire was fully charged. I got ready for bed, plugged the ear phones in, and listened to the sound of the ocean until the battery died and the system went silent. I rested and even napped during that time, and then I went to sleep and slept until the sun was fully up. This disturbed Young Man who is very attuned to schedules, especially treat times, but he survived just like I did.

God had to send a storm and unplug my entire town in order for me to take a break. I mean my entire town was dark for a day and some, as in my case, for two days. Yet, in that darkness was when I saw the light. Usually that is how we find our way to Jesus, the light of the world, in the darkness. When we come to the end of ourselves, then we come to the One who can fill our world and spirits with true light.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12

So, I suggest you take time to unplug and reset, or you might just find yourself unplugged with a beeping dying battery and grumpy cats.

Rest

If I had to choose one word as a theme this week, it would be rest. First of all, I could really use a little, but couldn’t we all? Beyond that, I kept bumping into the word everywhere I turned. Early in the week, I listened to a podcast from Bonnie Gray, and she was talking about taking time to rest and reset. Then, I received a card in the mail with the same scripture:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

This morning my Bible reading was from Joshua 11 and the last verse jumped out at me:

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.

(Joshua 11:23)

The last line resonated with me: “And the land rested from war.”

I don’t know about you, but I think we all could use a little rest from war. 2020 has turned out to be a marathon for battling on multiple fronts. Every time we turn around some new “threat” has materialized out of the mist, another giant to slay. Yet, Jesus called everyone who was “heavy laden” to come to him, and He would give them rest. How does that work?

First, you have to actually come to Jesus. In other words, you have to stop and spend time with the Lord. I think the phrase quiet time is even more important these days. We need to take time to be still and quiet; we need to block out the world and allow the peace that passes understanding to settle on us (Philippians 4:7).

Another thing we can do is to actually do less. Sometimes we overbook our schedules by trying to do everything. In the podcast I mentioned earlier, Bonnie Gray discussed letting go of being busy. In a society that values productivity, we can be tricked into thinking that a busy schedule means we are being productive. In fact, the opposite may be true. We may be busy but not really accomplishing anything of importance.

Finally, we need to take time to do things that we enjoy. Strike that. We need to schedule time to do things that we enjoy. Coffee (or tea) breaks were created for a reason. We need breaks from the daily grind for physical and mental health, not to mention our spiritual health. Do something fun. Do something silly. Do nothing.

I know when I start the day with a quiet time, and then end the day with a little quiet time I feel more rested and ready to do battle even in 2020, especially in 2020. I also know that taking time to knit or read a good book also lifts my mood and my energy. So, sit a spell, sip some tea, pet a cat (or dog), and enjoy the moment. Besides, your cell phone could probably use some alone time, too.

Stay

Goldie

Probably one of the hardest tricks to teach any animal is “stay.” With cats it is nearly an impossible command to teach because they are independent and stubborn. To stay means to wait for something. When Goldie was young, he finally figured out that if he waited patiently, when I finished with my cereal, I would let him have the remaining milk in the bowl. Meep, on the other hand, has no patience at all. She keeps reaching out and tapping me on the shoulder, pawing at my knee, or even trying to pull the plate or bowl with her paw. It makes mealtimes rather frustrating to say the least.2011-09-26 21.31.06

Psalms 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” Verse six says, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.” Verse 8 goes on to say “I delight to do they will.” God wants our obedience, and sometimes that means waiting instead of doing. For humans, that’s tougher than being asked to go into battle. We only feel like we are making progress if we are moving forward. Standing still and waiting seems like a waste of time, but God isn’t interested in our works; He is interested in our obedience.

In I Samuel 15:22 we find that King Saul did not fully obey God’s command of destroying the Amalekites, including their animals. Saul used the excuse that the people kept the animals so that they could sacrifice them to God. Samuel replies, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” God told him to destroy the animals not to bring them home because they looked good. They destroyed anything that was weak or sick but took the healthy flocks as spoils of the battle. The excuse that they kept them to use as a sacrifice was just a cover for their greed.

Like cats, we want what we want and we want it now. When the command is to wait, we find it hard to be obedient. Like Meep we try to paw or manipulate circumstances to achieve our desire; however, our desire should be to be obedient. When we finally learn to wait in obedience to His Will, then the Lord hears from us and answers our prayer in His time and His way. In the meantime, we can know that God is at work and is present in our lives. If He tells us to wait, then we can know that He means it for our good (Romans 8:28).

So, while you wait, praise the Lord now for what He is going to do in your life. Listen to to this song and maybe it will minister to you as it did me:

Take Courage by Kristene DiMarco

Be Still

Dropped stitchI was working on a knitting project late one evening and found what looked like a dropped stitch. Past experience taught me that trying to fix things when I’m tired only leads to more problems, so I used a stitch marker to hold it in place and put it away. I was frustrated because I was almost done with the project and wouldn’t be back at the yarn shop until after the weekend. The next morning I pulled out the project to look at it in the light of day and realized there actually wasn’t a problem, just some pulled threads, and any “fixing” I might have done would have made a problem where there hadn’t been one. I was able to finish the project over the weekend and move on to something new.

What is your first response when you encounter an obstacle or problem? Do you go into Ostrich Head in Sandproblem-solving mode? Do you get stick your head in the sand? For most people, we either hide from the problem, pretending it doesn’t exist, or we try to jump in and solve the problem using our own abilities. While this is the human approach, it is not necessarily the best way.

 

Parting Red SeaWhen the children of Israel left Egypt, the Pharaoh’s army followed them, leaving them trapped between the army and the Red Sea. The people cried out in fear, “13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14). God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could pass over on dry land, and then the water fell on their enemies and destroyed them without them lifting a finger.

When we face problems, it is tempting to try and take control of the situation; however, if we stand still, God will fight the battle for us. Our first instinct is to DO something, but God’s Word tells us to stand still and watch God work. We often want to jump in and straighten things out, but we often just make the situation worse.

Psalms 46:10 says, “10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” The translation of “be still” has the added meaning of releasing your grip. Instead of holding tighter to the reins of control, release your grip and let God have His way in the situation. Then sit back in faith and watch Him do things you never dreamed of or thought possible. The Israelites certainly didn’t expect the water to part before them and their enemies to be drowned but God always had a plan. They just needed to have the faith to step forward in obedience.

So the next time you face a problem or an obstacle, instead of panicking or jumping in, take a moment to be still and let God take the lead. Then we can rest in the knowledge that, no matter what comes, God is in control and will work it out to our good (Jeremiah 29:11). The bright light of morning may reveal that the problem only existed in our perception of the situation and a little time allowed the stitches to fall into place so that we can move forward once again.

Sunrise