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Be still

Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” If our previous blog resonated with you, it is possible you could be battling spiritual apathy. When faced with a series of overwhelming circumstances, of which there are plenty of examples in 2020, it feels as though fervour for Jesus is slipping through our fingers. 

To rekindle our zeal for the Lord (one of our primary vocations), we can engage in intentional stillness before Him in order to restore our soul.

In the rapids

We see water used both metaphorically and literally throughout the Old and New Testament. In Psalm 89:9 the Psalmist praises God: “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” In Psalm 1, we can see the offering to be watered well as it says, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.”.In the New Testament, Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14:22-33) and He offers the woman at the well living water (John 4:15-20).

Over the past four months, perhaps these biblical examples strike you differently depending on your situation. You may feel like you have been riding upstream against white water rapids. For some, your raft has sprung a leak and no matter how quickly you bail the water, a new leak appears. To recuperate from an unsettling storm of events, we need calmer waters; we need to change the direction of the flow; we need to terminate the leakages we have enabled. And we also need to remember these biblical examples as a better way of being still amongst the water in front of us. 

Be still and know

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 can simultaneously humble whilst causing us to praise God. He will be exalted among the nation and in the earth, not despite us being still, but because of it

This could elicit two possible responses within us: firstly, a deep sigh of relief. Phew, I can surrender my uncontrollable circumstances and burdens to God. The myriad of concerns that keep us awake at night can be laid at the foot of the cross. On the other hand, we could dig our nails deeper and choose control over surrender.

Thus, allow Psalm 46:10 to encourage you to look back on your life and recognise how God has worked as a result of relinquishing control. Stillness forces us to gain a deeper understanding of the Lord’s nature. This is an understanding we could have neglected due to grief, unfavourable circumstances or perhaps an encounter which made us choose apathy over compassion. 

Bear the uncomfortable

Perhaps the greatest test of faith comes not when initially deciding to surrender ourselves to God, although certainly that is a significant step, but when we close our eyes and suddenly panic. 

Deuteronomy 31:8 declares: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Evidently, in those initial uncomfortable moments of silence and stillness, He is there. He has gone before us and will be with you. 

If apathy has caused you to avoid stillness before Him, allow this to be an encouragement today. Try to seek half an hour when you can lay distractions aside, whatever they may be, and focus instead on glorifying your Creator, simply through being still. 

Before we offer ways that you can practically engage in stillness, let us reflect on what Christian author C.S. Lewis has written on the subject saying, “In silence and in meditation on the eternal truths, I hear the voice of God which excites our hearts to greater love.” 

Practical steps 

  • Dismiss distractions

Stillness does not involve tapping or scrolling. In order to pursue stillness intentionally, we must disconnect ourselves from technology. We could simply put our phone down beside us, however the itch to check our notifications will indubitably prevent authenticity and vulnerability before God. Instead, turn your devices onto Airplane Mode, and place them in another room. 

To deepen your time of solitude, schedule in this time of stillness in your week to prevent interruptions from work or family. Set a daily or weekly reminder on your phone to make sure this scheduled time isn’t forgotten. 

  • Find your place

The idea of sitting still and uninterrupted in a room may seem unthinkable to some. Stillness does not merely mean being physically unmoving, it more significantly means surrendering your situation thus allowing God complete control. Jesus’ urge toward the importance of a place for stillness doesn’t need to be complex, but is simply a place “away” from things. See Matthew 6:6.

Perhaps you can even find a walking route where you’ll be able to find solitude, or somewhere peaceful within your locality where you’ll be able to enjoy God, uninterrupted. Experiment spatially, and you’ll soon find out what works. 

  • Speak out loud to God

At first, this may seem uncomfortable, however, verbally addressing our feelings out loud is not something to be embarrassed about; in fact, it could be the means to regaining the freedom that He offers. A good place to start could be by praying Proverbs 30:1: “I am weary O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.” God understands that a result of living in this world is weariness, so take this moment to worship how deeply He understands our life and its situations. 

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As you contemplate how stillness combats spiritual apathy, invite God to work in your life today through a simple prayer: Lord, deliver me from the apathy I am facing and help me be intentional in pursuing stillness before you. I lift up my life to you today. Thank you that although I myself am not strong enough, you alone give me strength and hope. Cure my heart and help me rekindle zeal for Jesus Christ. Amen.

Next week we’ll take a look at how we can bring glory to God from our homes.