The troubling times continue. So does the blaming, discord and trouble. Right now, I don’t know anyone or any organization free of it.
I’m finishing a series of three Women’s Book Clubs this year at a local church here in Texas. We’ve studied three different books all taking us a little deeper into the subject of sloth-like stillness for spiritual health based on Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.
I’ve re-visited the whole Psalm 46 several times this year. Every time, I’m stunned that it is not a Psalm of sweetness and serenity. It does not even come out of quiet setting like you might think.
It is a verse born of fear in pure chaos and trouble: the earth is giving way, mountains are crumbling into the sea, the ocean waters are foaming and rocking, mountains quake and surge. (Psalm 46:2-3)
Psalm 46 is written from a battlefield it seems: Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall, the earth melts. (Psalm 46:6) It is filled with the language of war: bows, spears, shields and fire.
I feel like if we just read it a little harder, we’d see Covid or Monkey Pox there too. It could be describing our world today.
And into that, all of that, is the verse we love to hang on our walls, Be still and know that I am God.
What I love is that God is calling us, even in chaos and calamity to be still. God is calling us especially in chaos and calamity to be still.
This verse and the book studies of the year have helped me to realize, as counterintuitive as it is, stillness is the answer. Slowness is the answer. Disconnecting in order to connect with God is the answer.
In my last blog I wrote about the power of the Deep Down, as a place of peace where God’s spirit resides. We go there through stillness.
When we slow and when we still, beautiful things begin to happen. We can hear better. We can see better. We become more available and less rushed.
The book we are studying this week at the Women’s Book Club is called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of our Modern World by John Mark Comer. Comer reports a conversation where one successful Christian leader calls another to ask advice, What do I need to do to become the me I want to be? After a long pause, the answer comes back, You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. The man asking the question thinks this is great advice and then says, Okay, what else? There is another long pause and then this answer, There is nothing else. Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. (p. 18-19)
What if that is it? We can become stronger in chaos and in crumbling when we’ve slowed enough to be still before God. We can be more present to the day we’ve been given and the people right before our eyes.
A friend gave me a book (autographed by the author) called Is God in My Top Ten? by Jerome Kodell. Father Kodell writes beautiful essays about connecting with God and each other. He teaches that a person with an anchored soul should have plenty of time and energy for each person in his/her path. When someone says, I know you are busy, our thought should be, of course I have time, you are my schedule. (p. 35) Wouldn’t those words be graceful to hear?
I had a chance to try it out just a few days ago. I was in a local store; the owner was there. I was the only customer. He said, I know you are shopping but I just have to share something. I realized he was my schedule and listened. He shared two stories I will never forget.
Are you still enough, anchored enough, slowed enough to give the gift of your attention?
As May ends, we are working ourselves through this milestone month of May with the school year ending, graduations, awards, banquets and such. We are doing it in the middle of our battle worn, chaotic society, where hate and misinterpretation abound.
In summer, we have the invitation to do something differently. We can ruthlessly eliminate hurry. We can slow. We can see each other. We can listen. We can change our schedules and see and hear each other. Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor, Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. To see her upcoming speaking events, to read more blogs or to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle email, resuming again September 1, go to http://www.drcindryryanblog.com.