Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10).
This is a very familiar verse. You and I can recite it easily. But here’s a harder question: Do we practice it? What does it mean? How do we do it?
At first, it seems like a very simple, straight-forward message: "Be still and know that I am God." But I have discovered that it is not that easy to implement in my life, and I have a feeling many of you share that experience.
First, it’s not easy to simply be still, is it? We live in a world that seems to be in perpetual motion. All of us have more to do than we ever get done. It is not in vogue to "be still." Successful people aren’t viewed as people who are "still." Rather, they are people who are active. We have this idea that if we’re not doing something, we’re not being productive.
Those of us who are mothers remember how often we’d just give anything if our children would just be still! All that energy and constant movement! How many times have you taken your child’s shoulders, looked him or her in the eyes, and said, "Please, BE STILL!" You feel as though you cannot get anywhere with them until they simply STOP.
God, our Father, says the same thing to us. "Be still. STOP!" Stop working, stop moving, stop talking – STOP!" The first hurdle we face is to get our bodies to be still, to literally stop moving, and for most of us that does not come easy.
I have learned that I must plan this "still" time in my day. It has to be designated and I must give it the highest priority. For me, it has to be early in my day, before my mind is cluttered and my concentration is divided. And it’s very helpful to me to have a certain place which I think of as my "still" place—that one spot in my home which is more or less reserved for my time with God.
Are you having some difficulty with learning to be still? I encourage you to take this verse seriously and don’t let the world shove you into its mold of constant motion. If you don’t learn to be still, you’ll never really be able to learn to know God.
But there’s more to being still than just stopping the body movement.
We must first get our bodies to be still. Plan a time of stillness. But I can get up early and get my body into that "still" place, and discover that I’m still not "still." Now the battle really begins for me. My mind starts going a mile a minute. It’s easy to lose my concentration on the purpose of this "still" time, and even though the body is in the right place, I’m not still before God.
In order to be still before God, I have to have that inner focus which centers on God and God alone, which brings me into that place where he is for that time my whole universe and no extraneous or conflicting information is allowed to interfere.
How can I get to the place where I can be truly still before God, so that I am completely swallowed up with his presence and his reality, and nothing interferes with it? Frankly, I don’t think it’s easy for any of us, because our three enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil, are all out to break up this quiet inner stillness, and a spiritual war rages when we sit down to be still before God.
Here are some things that I have found helpful. First, I begin by praying for inner concentration, by claiming the blood of Christ as protection, by putting on the helmet of salvation to keep my mind from wandering.
Singing can help me "be still" before the Lord, so at times I sing a hymn or chorus which focuses on God. Try keeping a pad nearby so that when your mind starts to think of other things, you can quickly make a note of it and then back to your meditation time. And then, simply be prepared to stay with it no matter how much your mind wanders. Just keep re-focusing; don’t give up.
I find it takes time. I cannot be still at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it takes what seems forever for me to be still on the inside. But until we are still, we really cannot make any further progress toward knowing that he is God.
So this simple verse which tells us to "Be still and know that I am God" requires some strong discipline on our part. We have to make a commitment to it and ask God to give us the strength to be still, both on the outside–stop the perpetual motion and find time to be alone with God–and on the inside–focusing our thoughts and mind on Him alone.
Let’s look at the next challenge of these eight simple words, and that is to know that he is God. Knowing something means we understand clearly and with certainty. Knowing implies understanding. Knowing requires training and education.
Knowing doesn’t just happen. It is a result of a process, and it requires involvement on my part. Knowing develops confidence and trust. Knowing dispels doubt and fear.
To know God means that we know that he alone is God and we don’t look to other people or sources to meet our needs. Tell me, when you have a need, where do you go first for help? Do you first go to your bank account and trust in your money? Do you run to a friend or counselor to give you comfort and advice? Do you look to a job for security? Then if those fail, is that when you go to God?
When you know that he is God, you run first to him for all your needs. You know that God alone is your source and while he may use other people to help you, he alone is your source. Lots of us are simply using God as our emergency escape hatch; when all else fails and we’ve exhausted all our sources, then we start praying, "Oh, God, please help me."
Knowing God means you know that he alone is God and you are learning to turn first and finally to him for all strength, help, confidence and security. But you’ll never be able to do that if you don’t first learn to "be still" so that you can know that he is God.
"Be still and know"—We need a rock solid confidence in our knowledge, and that comes as a process, a way of life. Let me ask you, do you know that he is God more today than yesterday? Do you trust God more this year than you did this time last year? Can you see a growth pattern in your knowledge and trust of God?
If your answer is not a definite yes, perhaps it’s because you haven’t yet made a commitment to be still—both bodily and mentally—and know God. That’s where it begins.
"Be still and know that I am…" Moses asked God what he would tell the children of Israel if they asked him ‘What is his name?’ God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me."
"I AM" is God’s name. What does that mean to you? Here’s how I think of it. Fill in the missing word. "I need ." Whatever word you can put in that missing blank, Jesus can fill it in, because he is I AM. He is our total need-satisfier. Just listen to a few of the I AM’s we find in Scripture:
I AM thy shield. I AM the Lord that heals thee. I AM with thee. I AM he that comforteth you. I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. I AM meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. I AM the bread of life. I AM the light of the world. I AM the door of the sheep. I AM the good shepherd.
Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say I am?" That’s our question today. What is our understanding of I AM? Do we allow God to be to us all that he is willing and capable of being? Is your missing blank today "I need a husband?" Isaiah 54 says "For your Maker is your husband." Is your missing blank "I need money?" Philippians 4 says "My God will meet all your needs…"
Do you need healing of your body, your mind or your emotions? Jesus is the Lord that heals you. Are you lonely? I AM is with you always, able to take away that loneliness if you will learn to know that he is God. Are you hurting badly today because of a broken relationship or rejection or loss that you’ve suffered? I AM is there to comfort you and meet that need for you.
I guarantee you, whatever you put in that missing blank, our loving Father meets that need, because he is I AM. "Be still, and know that I AM…" But it begins by being still with God, taking time to get your body and mind quiet so that you can know that he is God.
If you’ve been neglecting that important principle, it is likely the reason that you don’t know the power of God’s presence in your life. Until you take time to be still and know God, you won’t experience his all-sufficiency, the power of I AM to meet all your needs. Will you today begin to be still and know the great I AM who is waiting to be gracious to you?
Let’s focus on the last of those eight words: "Be still, and know that I am GOD."
Many of us, including Christians, are worshiping false gods today. You say, "Not me, Mary. There are no idols in my house or my church." Well, there may not be any idols of wood or stone, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t worshiping an idol god. And our God hates idolatry. It is such a horrendous insult to the God of all the universe when we worship other gods than Him—false gods, gods that don’t exist and cannot meet our needs.
Oh, how easy it is for us to forget who is God. This world system tells us that each of us as individuals is a god. The world system will encourage you to worship yourself and make yourself the most important person in the world. The business community believes our careers should be our god. Sometimes we allow another person to become a god in our lives. Often our dreams and desires become our gods.
We need a constant reminder of who is GOD. We need to frequently check the thrones of our hearts and see what has climbed up there to take first place. "Be still, and know that I am God."
Those eight words carry a strong message. They really hold the secret for us as Christians—the secret for a victorious life, the secret for keeping our priorities in line, the secret for a balanced life, the secret for a life of peace and contentment, the secret for a life that blesses others and brings glory to God.
I want to challenge you today, as we face this new year, to take this verse very seriously, and by God’s grace, start to implement it in your life. Start each day by consciously getting still before God. Quote the verse to yourself. Think about it in sections.
Ask yourself, "Am I really still?" Plan your still time, and pray for that inner stillness you need so that you can know God. Remember the I AM’s of scripture. Write them down and re-read them often, to remind yourself of how totally sufficient God is for every need.
And then, carefully keep a watch on the throne of your life to see who or what may be trying to become your god. That happens subtly and we must constantly be on our guard against it.
Will you "Be still, and know that I am God"?