“Stop what you are doing and follow me.”
“Be still and know that I am God.”
“Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.”
Why are these some of the hardest verses in the Bible to a-p-p-l-y to life? Ok, so I’ll speak for myself and not the whole of Christendom. What is it about the constant doing that I find so appealing and the call to be still that I find so very challenging?
When I was younger, my (inappropriate) coping mechanisms were less sophisticated and therefore more obvious to the passer-by. I’ve traded them for a whole load of more acceptable, legal strategies that I also see reflected by others, as we try to make sense of how to live. Although these strategies are highly socialised and evolved, compared to sniffing lighter fluid in a park, their roots are often the same. For example:
I’m not sure I am enough.
But if I work the hardest, perhaps I will be. But if I’m the friend you can always, always call 24-7, perhaps I will be. But if I can work with the most difficult and shunned people in our society, perhaps I will be. But if I never fail, never miss a deadline, and am 100 per cent reliable, whatever the personal cost, perhaps I will be. Before I know it, I think I am the messiah. And that’s when my sophisticated coping mechanisms get really dangerous.
Well. Quite simply, I am not enough. But thank Christ, I know that God truly is enough to sustain this thing called life and even to enable me to flourish into something stunning. And, in His mercy, He takes my actions and uses them anyway, in spite of my mixed motivations.
In a corner of our souls, there is a lover, who has been singing a simple and beautiful song for all eternity to each and every one of his children, “Come away with me”. It is gentle, patient, kind, loving, joyful, good, peaceful and self-controlled. The singer and the song are always faithful. We need to stop, collaborate and listen, to know it is being sung.
How often do we let this call of intimacy and stillness infuse into our bones? I’m so fond of Isaiah 61, that I forget it starts with: “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me.” I might need to be still, encounter God and know that spirit, before I charge into the day binding up the broken-hearted, vanquishing dragons and rescuing maidens.
When I am still before God, I see this this awesome love that is so pure it is clearly other to human-ness. In this place, I can never be mistaken about who the saviour and rescuer is, or about who needs who. I become aware of my desperate need of this mind-blowing, indwelling of the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It no longer matters that I am not enough, because in this meeting, God’s love blazes through everything that brings death, and begins the rebirth.
Oh Lord Jesus, help me to rely on you and your love, and not my worn-out self. As my Lenten fervour wanes, please renew my mind so that I grow to love the call to “be still”.
Oh, and thanks for your patience in the meanwhile.
If you can, take five minutes right now to be still and ask God to reveal Himself to you.
Consider what your ‘coping strategies’ for life are? Then ask God to illuminate if there is a root cause that He’d like to dig out.
Ask Him what He wants to show you today.
Image by Michaela Kobyakov vis stock.xchng images.