I can’t be the only one who has a hard time putting the concept, “ ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ ” into practice.
Very often, all kinds of worries, plans, and ideas start zinging through my head while I pray. I’m supposed to be casting my cares on the Lord, and then— “Oooh, squirrel! I forgot to answer that email!”
If you read the entirety of Psalm 46, you’ll see that it’s about taking cover in a God who is sovereign over even such calamity as natural disasters and national turmoil. The theme is evident from the start:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
I discovered something cool in the footnotes of this verse: the word “trouble” might also be translated “tight places.”
See, I often think I can squirrel my way through tight places, and I get so distracted with daydreams of how that will work . . . and often the execution of those daydreams, too.
This kind of thing happens all the time in my world:
I’ll be staring at a display at the office supply store, deciding what to add to my order so I can use a $10-off-$50-purchase coupon, when all I really need is printer ink so I can print coupons so I can shop for food to prepare for the guests that will be at my house in a few hours. During all of this, I’m thinking, “What am I doing at Staples when I have friends coming over?!”
Striving. That’s what I’m doing. Bona fide Ecclesiastical wind-chasing. I’ll be in the middle of trying to be a good steward, frugal and intentional, and all of a sudden I’m spending an extra $7 bucks and 45 minutes to save $3.70 on some groceries.
And while I’m squirreling my way through tight places, I exhaust myself. I’m a little exhausted just from explaining it, honestly.
But Psalm 46 tells us to be still (NKJV) . . . to cease striving (NASB) . . . and know that God is God.
What happens if I decide it’s not worth the time, money, or effort to go to the office supply store, and I just buy the food I need to prepare? What if I trust God, that He knows my heart, and that He sees me weighing my choices for being a good steward?
Maybe the things I need will be on sale. Maybe someone will have left a coupon I can use on the shelf after deciding not to buy the product. Maybe I’ll randomly receive a $5 gift card. All of these things have happened to me at the grocery store.
But maybe God won’t extend a financial blessing. I might have to pay full price for everything—and realize needs I didn’t plan for along the way. The items I need might be out of stock, so I’ll have to change my plans entirely. These things have happened, too.
But either way—if I cease striving, trust God, and skip the squirrelly paths in favor of the straight ones—when the guests arrive, I’ll be less frazzled and more present, with more of me left to offer them. I can’t make anything happen, but I can choose to leave time and energy to have a Mary moment full of significance, rather spend it all on Martha moments that are never long enough to get anything done.
Which moment exalts the Lord? I ask because God doesn’t tell us to cease striving so He can bless us. No, the verse says,
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
He is sovereign. He is in charge. He is God. When we’re still, when we cease striving, we give Him His due. We make space for Him to be who He is in our lives, and we get to see Him at work in tight places where not even squirrels can reach.
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