There’s a bit of irony to this post. Shortly after I wrote the introduction to this post on being still I received a phone call that changed it all. Now, let me backtrack for a minute…
Before the phone call I was beginning to relax and be still after a few long years of incredibly high stress from a long string of many events. I was fighting againsts the let down of stress hormones that were making me feel twitchy and generally sick. I thought “ah-ha! I’ve beat it! I’m finally relaxing!”, I began to put together the post and was all set to write when the phone rang.
My Grandma was in the hospital and was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. My heart began to race, old habits of hurrying and busyness and “go do” mentality came flooding back. I needed to be there at the hospital, I needed to help my Grandpa, I needed to make arrangements for my kids to be watched in anticipation for our back and forth driving to and from the hospital. I ran out and got a week’s worth of groceries so we wouldn’t have to worry about doing that should things get worse. Old habits were setting back in and I was instantly a jittery mess of busy again. The night after the phone call when my stress levels were ramped up again I took a hot shower and began to pray. When I got out I went to find my husband to talk through it with him (I like to talk to him to “work through” the thoughts in my head), but God’s quiet still voice called me to him. I couldn’t deny that stirring in my heart to sit with my bible in hand and be still with my Father. I began to write in my prayer journal and here’s what came out…
“I kept thinking today, when will it end? When do I get a season of rest, peace, quiet, and stillness? I am realizing the peace and stillness don’t come like I thought they would. There is no miraculous season that lands upon my life where the world stops turning. Everyday throws unexpected curveballs, some big, some small. I have grown, and even become accustom, to feeling frantic. I keep thinking, if I can just have quiet and nothingness for one week THEN I’ll feel good again. I think, if I can clear my schedule for a few days to sit THEN I’ll want to read my bible. I am beginning to realize that that stillness that I desperately want to have doesn’t come from an empty calendar and good health, it comes from self-discipline. Discipline that says “sit and read your bible”, or “sit in quiet and say nothing with God”.
I realized how, in my moments of extreme busy and stress, I am subconsciously looking for distraction from the overwhelmingness on my life. I call a friend to talk about my circumstance, send a text, watch a show, check Facebook all because my heart doesn’t want to be alone with itself. But what I forget is that it’s not alone. God, the one whose hand is over, under, and through every busy frantic moment in my life, also has a hand on me. I forget that.
I seek a strange comfort in my busyness and stress because it’s what I know. If I spent half as much time as I do on the stressors instead of getting to know WHO God is, then I wouldn’t feel the need to cling so tightly to my own drama and frantic lifestyle. If I knew as much about God as I do about cancer, or what my “friends” on Facebook are doing, or trending YouTubes, and trending photos, I would see my busy life in a different perspective. If I read my bible like I read news articles I would hold God’s promises closer to my heart instead of the promises the broken world has to offer me.”
God tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). In Psalm 46:10 he says to us to be still and know that he is God. And again in the Psalms we hear him say that “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (127:2). God commands us to be still! It’s OK to rest. It’s good for us in fact, even God knows that!
MY frantic busyness in MY choice to be frantic and busy. I have chosen to carry my own burden of the chaos around me. I was the one who took it upon myself to get frazzled and flustered and exhausted. It was not God’s wishes for me to be so busy that there is no room for quiet and stillness and rest. God’s wishes were never to rob me of joy in my heart because I am too busy to smile or laugh. God is never in a hurry, so why am I thinking that I need to be?
I become stressed and busy because I don’t trust God’s plan, I create activity that doesn’t need to happen in my life. I become stressed and busy because I feel the need to do things for my own personal gain and pride. I become stressed and busy because I don’t trust other people to get the job done. And finally, and probably my biggest reason for becoming busy: I become busy because I’m afraid to be alone with what I’m feeling.
Being still hurts. It hurts to be so quiet that you can know what’s in your heart and your mind. It hurts when God reveals the tough stuff. It’s uncomfortable to do nothing. No tv, no music, no friends, no phone, nothing, just quiet stillness. But only when I get to that and make a point of being still can I hear what God is teaching me and speaking to my worn out exhausted heart, and sometimes what’s he is saying is as simple as “I love you”.
God is never in rush to get away from us. He doesn’t push us away because there’s a war he needs to tend to across the globe that’s more important than you. He doesn’t tell you to “shush” like I do to my kids because I’m busy working, his ears always open, always waiting for you. Daily we must make the time to sit at his feet and to be still, and not because we have to, but because we are designed to need the nourishment that only He can provide. Without that we are hungry and useless for his work when he does ask something from us. This is a tough thing that I wish I could say I’ve mastered, but I’m far from it. It’s one of those things that once I’ve sat with him I remember how good it feels, but trying to convince myself to get to that point for just five minutes some days feels monumental.
This week will you take a look at you life? Are you so busy you’re exhausted? Are you feeling like the little roller coaster stickman in the above cartoon? Is there any peace left in your heart? Are you feeling robbed of your joy? If so, then it’s time to be still. Fight against the urge to be busy and ask God to help you to sit and be still. Before you begin your day, before you turn on the radio, or the computer take 5 minutes to offer up thanksgiving your Heavenly Father. Make an intentional decision to clear your plate just for him. Sing, lay still or read your bible, whatever it is make that time for him to feed your soul. And at night, go to bed early. Turn off the tv (trust me there’s no show that will change your life that much), stop checking Facebook for the 100th time, shut off the noise and be still again. I pray that God, however busy your season, would bring joy and peace and stillness and rest back to you as make a conscious effort to be with him.