Busy, busy, busy! That’s the way of life these days, a benchmark of success—the busier you are, clearly, the more successful, well-off, and productive you are! Movement has become meaning; in this day and age, it’s not uncommon to have a packed schedule from before sunrise to well after sunset.
Somewhere in this crazy busyness, we’ve lost sight of the value of stillness, both internally and externally. It’s practically impossible to live an outward life of constant motion and mayhem without those things creeping inside us; it takes a lot of effort indeed to be internally still when we’re externally flying. Yet our world continues to promote a lifestyle of “the busier, the better”, insinuating our value and productivity is solely measured on a sliding scale of motion.
Yet stillness is built into us, a part of our God-given nature, one of the many ways we’re like Him. God rested, and he commanded the Israelites to do the same. God never wanted for His people to be scurrying around every minute of every day, even if they were doing Kingdom-work! Why not? I think He knows that when we’re full of busy, we lose the ability to “Peace, be still…” and we lose touch with His still and quiet voice whispering from His holy spirit to our spirit.
Turn off your phone. Take a walk out in nature. Go down by a pond—alone. Step away from all the motion of life for a moment and embrace stillness. It might take a bit of time, maybe even a couple tries, but eventually if you actively pursue stillness, it brings about a sense of peace, a calmness like unruffled waters. This allows us to open our hearts, our ears, our minds more clearly to God’s leading; it makes us better able to discern His voice above the noise.
Stillness may be frowned upon in a performance-based society, but it’s something God cherishes, a lesson built into the fabric of His creation from fallow fields to seasons to growth patterns and everything in between. All of nature needs seasons of stillness to regroup in order to flourish again.
We are His creation, my loves. We are no different at all. And it’s time we reclaimed the need and value of stillness in our lives, so that we can learn to listen and walk more closely with Him.
What is Stillness?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stillness as “calm, tranquil; free from noise or turbulence.”
I think of stillness in the inner person as the difference between calm waters or stormy seas. When we’re storming, everything is choppy, dangerous, dark and deadly. We are like the disciples in the boat on the waves; we can’t see very far ahead, and even the familiar face of Jesus may be obscured and terrifying to us.
In contrast, stillness is glass-clear waters. It allows us to see not only around us in every direction, but down into the depths below us as well. From a place of stillness, we’re better able to ascertain what we’re dealing with on all sides. We can see our purpose, our heading, and the face of our Lord clearly. Equipped and ready, we are able to strike out from the stillness to reach our God-given destination.
What Does the Bible Say About Stillness?
Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Isaiah 40:31 – But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint
Exodus 14:14 – The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still
How Can I Become More Still?
Recognize that stillness is not a state of inactivity; quite the opposite. When our natural urge is to be active in every aspect of our own lives, trying to solve problems with our own might and minds, being still requires us to cast all our concerns on God and allow Him to work His wonderous ways.
I have found stillness often starts with prayer; before my Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that a problem is too big for me. I can’t fix this on my own! I give it up to God, let it rest in His hands. Many times, this act brings an instant wash of peace over me. I find the harried NEED to solve the matter RIGHT NOW goes away. I enter into a realm of stillness within myself…it often feels like a churning sea in my core goes quiet.
Now I’m thinking more clearly. I’m able to recognize when the emotional storm starts swirling again, when I’m starting to slide back into trying to take control. From a place of stillness, where I become aware of these surges, I’m able to enter back into prayer and actively give the matter up to God. I can say, “No. I am not taking this back on. I am trusting You to handle it and fight for me. I am going to be still and listen for Your voice to tell me how and when to move.”
Stillness, I’ve found, is something we have to fight for, and it’s a place from which we do some of our most powerful fighting in the spirit. In stillness, we refuse to let the Adversary’s fiery darts get us spinning. We refuse to be distracted and dragged into the kind of needless racing thoughts and frenzied, useless activity that blinds us to what God is working. Instead we foster this inner stillness, a kind of peaceful awareness that allows us to be singularly aware of exactly what God is doing and how He would have us act.
Keys to stillness include: prayer, cognition, calm, trust, and readiness. When we rely on God and strive for these things, we become peaceful; we are still. And from that place of stillness, we are attentive and ready for the voice of God, so that we can be part of the solution, not the problem, in bringing peace to a troubled world.
When moments of tension or crisis arise this week, make a conscious effort to choose stillness over reactivity. Note how it changes the way you approach and handle stressful situations!