Saturday, December 14, 2013

In The Stillness

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
Psalm 23:2

I love taking pictures.
It is not only an enjoyable hobby,
but I find it to be intensely therapeutic.

The other day, Kevin, Zach, and I were driving to Debbie, LD, and Mark's house,
and along the way, we spotted the prettiest scenes.

Kevin and Zach have become accustomed to frequent photo-op stops when I am driving,
so it came as no surprise that I often pulled off the beaten path along the way.

There is the neatest back road between two of the towns on our way there.
It is one of my favorite parts of the trip.


I got out of the car and walked back towards this bridge we had just crossed.
It felt good to walk outdoors in the fresh, autumn air.
The crispness was invigorating.
As I neared the bridge, I found still waters.





No movement.
No rush.
Just peaceful stillness.
Quiet waters.

I paused, stood still, and took in a deep breath.
There is something about being still that is amazingly calming.
I felt like I could have stayed there for a long time.
It was hard to leave, but Debbie had cooked us the best meal,
and we didn't want to keep her waiting.
It was well worth the rush to get there.  :)
She had made fried chicken and cubed steaks, 
along with tasty side-dishes.

Once we got back home, I downloaded the pictures I had taken and studied them carefully.
Just looking at them brings peace...remembering those moments...there by the side of the road.

In the hustle and bustle, we miss much.
We fail to hear the whispers of the wind,
to feel the breeze upon our face,
to see the fingerprint of God,
to smell the roses.

When we hurry, we tend to overlook what matters most.

I guess I've mentioned it a few times, but it remains true that 
often in my prayer time, God speaks Psalm 46:10 to me...on a personal level.
"Be still, and know that I am God..."

I wonder where David was when God spoke those same words to him.
Was he resting on a hillside, overlooking Jerusalem, vigilantly watching over his sheep?
Was he hiding in a cave, hoping King Saul didn't discover his latest place of refuge?
Was he sitting on the throne, faced with matters of life and death...
caught in the middle of enforcing God's law and keeping peace among his subjects?
Was he flat on his face calling out to God for mercy and forgiveness for the sins....
of conspiracy,
adultery
lies,
cheating, 
and murder?
Was he in the season of old age...wishing to be young again,
longing for busier days gone by?

We'll never know.
I love the book of Psalms.
I have often wished I could take a peek into the stories behind the words.
What exactly was going on in David's life, when God told him to be still?

I can only guess.

What I do know, personally, is that God has spoken those same words to me
literally countless times over the past couple of years.  
In moments of complete, overwhelming despair.
In moments of utmost confusion and not knowing where to turn or what to do next.
In moments of overpowering and debilitating anxiety.
When I was feeling afraid,
abandoned,
betrayed,
and alone.

How many times have I turned my face Heavenward and diligently sought His face....
longed to hear His voice....
needed His strength...
when, the only reply I have been given is, 
"Child, be still.
Just know that I am God.
Acknowledge Me as such.
Don't try to figure anything else out. 
Just thoroughly saturate yourself in the reality and knowledge that I am God.
That is all you need to know."

It has calmed me every time.
It is the last words I have heard many a tormented, distressed, and anguished night.
I have literally fallen asleep hearing that familiar still, small voice....
repeating that phrase over and over and over again.

It happened last night.
I had a lot on my mind when I finally closed my eyes at the end of the day.
Though my body was beyond exhausted, the anxiety was making it very difficult to go to sleep.
I did what I always do.
He was right there.
Speaking the same words....
can I tell you how much they comfort me?
They touch a spot deep inside that is otherwise unreachable.
They soothe the rawness, like salve to an open wound.
They calm the rattledness...the unsettledness....the apprehension....
like nothing in the world.

How many times would I have missed that...if I hadn't been still?
If I had resorted to alternate ways of relief?
If I had given in to the temptation to deaden the pain,
kill the emotions,
and allow something superficial to create an empty pretense of peace?

I know that He is God.
Not just because I have read that Scripture countless times.
But, because He is real to me.
I find Him in the stillness...
often alone in the dark....
noise shut out, heart wide open, low at His feet.

He is absolutely real.
He is God.
The only God.
The only way.
Our only hope.

We find Him in the stillness....
when we search for Him with all our heart.

Once the Old Testament prophet Elijah needed guidance from the Lord.
He was on the run...literally.....
depressed, confused, and afraid.
King Ahab and his beyond-wicked wife Jezebel were determined 
to kill him the moment they found him.
After traveling for 40 days and 40 nights, he took shelter in a cave.
As he stayed there, feeling disheartened abandoned,
he reminded God of his faithfulness, loyalty, and devotion....
and how he had stood firm for the right.
After he vented his questions and frustrations to God in prayer, 
the Lord spoke to him and said,
""Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, 
for the LORD is about to pass by."
I Kings 19:11
(NIV)

"And, behold, the LORD passed by, 
and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, 
 and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; 
but the LORD was not in the wind: 
and after the wind an earthquake; 
but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; 
but the LORD was not in the fire: 
 and after the fire a still small voice."
I Kings 19:11-13
(KJV - emphasis added)

"And after the fire a still small voice...."
I love that.
That is how God spoke.

So many times, we look for Him in the big things....
in the wind of the latest showy demonstration...
in the earthquake that is being caused by the newest, most popular large-scale exhibition....
in the fire that is kindled by sounds of thunderous applause and approval of others.
We think if we aren't out there in the midst of all the noise,
caught up in all that is going on,
doing great and mighty things for God,
and being praised by man for our great accomplishments,
that we are outside the parameters of His reach....
for surely, God must be in the loud...the bustle....the buzz of human endeavors....
and the latest emotional frenzy.....
right?

We look for Him in the big, because we know that God is sovereign.
He rules over all.
There is no doubt about that.

But here is what we miss.
Herein lies the paradox.
God is a big God...the only true God.
But, He chooses to draw close to those who are small...
those who are meek....
those who are broken....
those who are crushed...
those who will be still.
He loves to meet that kind in the solitude chambers of life.
Places we have purposely come aside...to find Him.
There He'll be.

God dwells in the stillness.
For it is quiet there.
And only there can we really hear His voice because it is a soft, gentle whisper

Elijah didn't find Him in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire.
It was only after everything settled and the noise subsided...in the still aftermath...
that He heard what He longed to hear.

That is where you and I will hear Him, too.

2 comments:

  1. Just what i needed today thank you Cheryl.
    God bless sue

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    Replies
    1. So thankful for your kind encouragement! I needed that today, also! God is so faithful to work on both ends and give us all what we need to keep going. :) Thank you so much for stopping by. May your Christmas be very blessed and happy. Love, Cheryl

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