On Tuesdays I've been Practicing Pauses - last week, I wrote about the concept of practice in contrast with mastery; this week, being still.
Our church's women's ministry just finished reading through Francis Chan's book Forgotten God. After we read the last chapter, we were given space to pray and ask the Spirit for guidance, and if there was anything we needed to be doing (or way we needed to be being) differently. Everyone at my table was industriously jotting lines of notes, some accompanied by tears, and while I am usually all about journaling and note-taking, this time there was nothing. After what seemed like a long time, a line from a Christmas carol earwormed itself into my mind. Hush your noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing. Not sure what to do with that, I wrote it down and kept thinking about it over the next week.
As part of Sabbath and practicing pauses, I've been observing Tuesdays - setting that day aside as a Sabbath of sorts, making an effort to journal and pray and embrace the extraordinary ordinary. I started back at the beginning of Hope*ologie and I've been doing Emily Freeman's journaling exercises that she posts each month, along with slowly reading Breathing Room and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. Last week's Quiet*ologie practice (from last August) was simply "be still."
Most of us, I think, are probably familiar with the verse that begins "Be still and know that I am God" - it's certainly on enough journal covers and coffee cups. It's a comforting little mantra for when we're overwhelmed by things. But there's more to the verse. The whole thing is Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (That's Psalm 46:10). That alters the meaning a little. How much of my striving is for my own exaltation? He is God. Yes, He cares for me and my (ultimately) trivial troubles. But most importantly, He is the main character of His own story, the one that we're all a part of, and He is the one who gets the glory in the end (and the middle, and the beginning).
Hush your noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
I waste so much of the energy He's given me, trying to make some sort of difference. And I do believe that we've all got a purpose, and that our primary purpose is to represent Him, building the Kingdom now while we wait for the Kingdom not-yet. But sometimes I take that responsibility on myself, pressuring myself as though I alone, in my own power, hold the key to His Kingdom coming.
The Story has already been written - we already know how it ends. And sometimes I need to pause - not just to quietly do something restful, like reading or praying or journaling, but a true full stop - and realize that the earth won't stop spinning when I do. The angels are singing, and the world is on His shoulders, not mine.
When was the last time you stopped being busy (even being busy doing good things) and simply marveled?