Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Be Still??

I spent the better part of Valentine’s Day with one of my dearest friends. We were in the oncology outpatient facility where she received, what we all hope, was her final chemotherapy treatment. There’s something about seeing a loved one - did I mention that she is only 37 years old? - hooked up to a machine administering toxic medication, that will bring you to your knees. As I watched the caring nurses bustling about, listened to the whispered conversations of other patients, and heard the whirring sound of the machines, I was struck by our complete human frailness. It was in that quiet cubicle, with the sounds of modern medicine all around me, that I felt the presence of my heavenly father.

You see, I’ve been thinking (A LOT) lately about Psalm 46:10 – you know the part where the Psalmist writes about being still. Why is that concept so hard for us? Are we afraid of what might happen in that stillness? Are we afraid that we might (gasp) actually “hear” our heavenly father? In my faith tradition, we don’t talk much about that concept. But why is it mentioned so often throughout scripture? If the savior of the universe needed to be alone in prayer (Matt. 26: 36 & 39), then why do we feel that we are too important to slow down – to be still?

I have a theory about that. In my professional life, I’m a college professor. I deal with theories and with college students regularly. This generation of students has difficulty with the concept of stillness. They walk around with MP3 players in one hand (and ear), a cell phone in the other, a laptop in their backpack, an X Box AND GameCube in their dorm rooms, and then we expect them to sit in a classroom and listen! I’m amused by this irony. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m hoping for an MP3 for my birthday, I’d be lost without my cell phone, and I’m writing this on my laptop. Just today, my two daughters informed me that they have saved enough of their allowance to “finally” (their word) buy a GameCube. So I’ve bought into this mentally as much as my students. My theory is that by constantly filling our time, often with wonderful, Godly activities, we fool ourselves into thinking that we are knowing God. Do you remember the second part of verse 10, “Be still, and know that I am God? It seems to me that we have convinced ourselves that by simply doing, we ARE knowing our heavenly father. Yet, and for me this is the kicker, the writer specifically says to first “be still” and then the knowing part comes. So is the stillness a prerequisite for knowing our God? I’m still working on that one.

I’m thankful for my students, who often teach me more than I teach them, and I’m thankful for my friend. My students challenge me daily to be real, to put my faith into action. My friend, through her suffering and courage, has forced me to slow down and re-examine how I use my time. I’m learning that being still allows me to discern the voice of my Father, the one who created me and knows me best. It allows me time to meditate on His word and His will for my life. It allows me time to rejuvenate, so that I can carry out that will in my daily activities. It forces me to the realization that I cannot be who He wants me to be unless I stop and actually focus on Him. It allows me, as the Psalmist so eloquently stated, to know that He is God – not me. My prayer is that we will have the courage to be still and know our God. I’m just sorry that it took a chemotherapy treatment for this point to be driven home to me.


Paul said...

Wonderful posting, Rebecca. Our congregation is currently walking through a study on Christian spirituaity (using the book, Living God's Love by Gary Holloway and Earl Lavender). We are building up to an all-congregational sabbath or sabbatical. For 12 days we are calling people to rest in God. A practice we are encouraging during this time will be to "go silent and be still" with God. We been trained to talk to God, but listening to God is the other essential part. It is the hardest part. Thanks for helping me see how rewarding silence can be.

Greg Taylor said...

Thanks so much, Rebecca, for sharing both your moments with your friend with us and the reminder to be still and know God, that he is.

Rusty Peterman said...

Thanks, Rebecca for openning up. Your words caused me to remember two thoughts.

First, from a professor I had in graduate school who had a son going through treatments for cancer. The prof said: "It's all made me realize, like never before, man's extreme mortality."

Second, lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman:

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know that he is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that he will never change
Be still

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know that he is God
Be still
Be speechless

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know he is our father
Come rest your head upon his breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for his little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still.

I'm going to stop now, be still, and listen. Thanks.

D said...

Thank you. I am beginning as some say the last third of my life. My oldest is a graduate of ACU, married and working, my middle child is married and my youngest is a junior at ACU. I have struggled for years with how to find peace and hear God in the midst of controlled and un-controlled chaos. It is only now that I am beginning to hear the voice of God and respond to the nudgings of the Spirit. God is speaking to me in many ways. He is using the "wired" world we inhabit. He is using you, Rebecca, and your wonderful posting. He is using my cell phone, my laptop, my business, my friends, my church. This morning I was visiting a church and heard a sermon by John Scott entitlted "Christ in Combat". He reviewed with us that Christ's strategy was to retreat, refresh, and fight. So should our strategy be. I find great refreshment in your posting Rebecca, and great encouragement to retreat, refresh and focus.