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)
And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (be quiet)." (Exodus 14:13-14)
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah …Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-11)
Religious Activity: The Art of Appeasing an Angry God
It seems to me that most of what predominantly passes itself off as religion has always been and unfortunately still is, the art of doing something special to appease an angry and vengeful God. From giving him the best of the harvest (which He doesn’t eat) to offering Him the sacrificial death of our firstborn (which He doesn’t want) our human ancestors sought thus to stay in good graces with an easily irritated and angry God.
Today we neither bring our fruit or firstborns to the altar, yet religion continues to march on, as we offer the sacrifices of worry and willpower on that same altar hoping to solicit God’s attention.
Should we encounter the inexplicable or catastrophic we do so with the power of a ‘Do More so he’ll Notices Us Grunt Christianity’. Just try harder! If we feel he won’t pay attention to our plight, we wave our religious hands in desperation in hopes that He will notice. Who knows… maybe he’ll see and come to our aid!
When trouble or tragedy brings the insecurity of wondering what mood God might be in, we sub-conscientiously are instructed or blatantly counseled by some well meaning pastor or friend; …. To pray more, read the bible more, witness more, go to church more, serve more, give more etc. etc.
Hence; being convicted of how much we have fallen short of the ideal and how much more we could have done if we had only known that this circumstance was coming, we begin to ‘grunt’ up our religious offerings in a flurry of writhing , work, and worry. In so doing (or as this bogus concept promises) God will notice our efforts, come near with His comfort and we will begin to feel better. Who knows….he might even stop being so mean to us. We might not ever use those exact words but we do, in extreme times, begin to think along those lines.
Sometimes this type of religious fretting and grunting will even give us a faint feeling of hope in attracting the attention of this ‘I told you so’ kind of disinterested wrathful God. Yet the continued practice of this idea will set us up for having to offer an even more ardent and sacrificial sacrifices the next time problems arise and trust me… there’s always a next time.
Well then; what should we do when trouble comes? How should we be when trauma, tragedy and the fear of the unknown come rushing in and it seems as if your whole world is being shaken (or even removed)?
King David put it very plainly….. Just be still.
That phrase ‘be still’ could not be more descriptive… it means quit striving. The original Hebrew word means …. Abate, cease, fail, wait till evening, faint, idle, leave, let alone, be slack, be feeble, be still, be slothful, be weak. (Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary #7503).
There is nothing in the phrase, ‘be still’, that would indicate we should … try to grunt up more belief or worse, send up spiritual flares by doing more religious activities. So why, when the scriptures clearly indicate that stillness is the correct response, do we start working so hard? If we’re really honest with ourselves the answer is very simple.
There are areas in our life we aren’t sure of His love. Places deep inside of us where His love has not driven out the primal fear of being alone. That is why He allowed us to come into these circumstances. He wants us to know His love in every area of our lives. He said He would never leave us or forsake us. Because we don’t really believe that, our confidence resides in our misguided childish efforts to try and get his attention or worse… through religious activity try to do something that will appease his displeasure!
These panic driven religious acts are driven by our fears of this ‘angry or disinterested god’ and what he might or might not do. They betray the fact that we are not trusting that He is a good Father, always pays attention to our troubles and setting limits as to how far those troubles can go. Our hope resides in getting this terrible god to once again notice and help us.
Our Current Experience
This has been both the most difficult and the most productive time we have ever spent in Kenya. We have been thrust into frightening spiritual conflicts and at the same time presented with unbelievable potential for ministry. Early in the conflict it became obvious that there was nothing we could do to stop or even slow down these vicious onslaughts. Month after month they continued. The temptation to defend ourselves, retaliate legally, run home, hide or just do anything was tremendous.
Yet the Spirit of God continually spoke to our spirits and emphatically telling us to just get still. So that is what we did. The results? God sent a man whose actual name means ‘God’s Peace’ into our house whose first words were…. “God sent me here to help you”. From that day on we began to experience the salvation our God. Everything now is moving forward and even our little puppy that almost died of Parvo virus (a fatal puppy dog disease) has recovered.
While ‘being still’ doesn’t necessarily mean inactivity, it certainly does mean to quiet all mental and emotional activities to hear God more completely. We like the psalmist must learn to tell our soul (emotions and thoughts) to shut up and wait on God.
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)
Should we do so in quiet faith…. Like lightening in a great storm, heaven will send power to the earth for our deliverance. Many times though, power from heaven is waiting for us to reveal our power ….to be still.