Still Learning How to Be Still


Only when we stop moving and stop striving can we recognize the truth about God: He is in control.

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

Here’s the truth: The word still — as in “don’t move” — is not in my vocabulary. Stand still? Sit still? Lie still? Nope. I shift from foot to foot or wriggle in my chair or flip back and forth in bed every two minutes, searching for a more comfortable position.

So when God says, “Be still,” I know I’m in trouble. The words may sound soothing, but in Scripture they’re a gentle but firm reproof. “Calm down” (CEV), He says. “That’s enough!” (CEB). At the time these words were written, God was speaking very pointedly to His battle-prone people. “Stop fighting” (ERV), He told them, “cease striving” (NASB) and “desist” (YLT).

Okay, then.

It’s clear that in our own daily battles we’re to lay down our weapons and trust God for the victory, believing it will come in His perfect timing and according to His flawless plan. In the meantime, He tells us to rest in Him and “let go of your concerns!” (GW)

We nod in agreement even as we hang on to those concerns with both hands. If we don’t fret over our children’s future, who will? If we don’t worry about our parents’ health, who will? If we don’t agonize over life’s disappointments, big and small, who will?

He will. That’s what God wants us to understand.

Only when we stop moving and stop striving can we recognize the truth about God: He is in control.

No matter how crazy our world gets — and it’s definitely getting crazier by the minute — God is still in His heaven, and His good and perfect will is certain to prevail.

When our verse continues, “know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a), He’s reminding us who He is and what He can do. The creator of all things — including all humanity — knows how to calm our hearts, ease our minds and guide our lives in the right direction.

In the meantime, our calling is simple. Be still. Believe. Be ready.

One autumn morning my husband and I breezed along a country road, taking my new car for a spin. It was a beautiful Thursday, not a cloud in the sky, not a troublesome thought on our minds.

Without warning, a car coming from the opposite direction swerved into our lane and headed straight for us. Several cars were in front of him, so he couldn’t get back in line. The road had no shoulder, no passing lane and no obvious way we could escape a head-on collision.

Three words pounded in my heart. Be still. Know.

With only a split second to act, I dove into the grassy embankment and steered around a telephone pole, a large electrical transformer, an enormous tree and one very long white fence.

When I finally braked to a stop without hitting any of the above, I was amazingly calm. No tears, no trauma, no trembling hands.

Another car that had also been forced off the road pulled up behind us. “Are you okay?” the anxious driver wanted to know.

“Fine,” we both assured her, blinking at each other in astonishment. We were fine. So was our car. Clearly, the Lord had spared us. While I was being still, He was steering.

Does this mean in our day-to-day lives we should take our hands off the wheel, kick back, take a nap, trust God? Not quite. Our hands must stay on the wheel, at the computer, in the laundry basket. Wherever our day finds us, we need to be fully engaged.

But when worries come, we can lift them up to God. When adversaries appear, we can let God handle them. For God to change how we live, He first must change how we think. Step one? Be still.

Lord, help us be still and not strive, to stand in place without pacing in circles. Help us sit calmly and wait for the promised victory that is in Your able hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Matthew 6:27, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (NIV)

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV)

Some of us may find it easier to force our bodies to be still rather than to corral our scattered thoughts or bring our stubborn wills into submission.

Think about when, where and how you might be still before the Lord today for just five minutes. (It’s longer than it sounds!) What did you discover about yourself? About God? About the value of taking time to be still?

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