God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
2 That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart…
6 Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.
God utters his voice; the earth melts.
7 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety…
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!”…
11 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety. – Psalm 46, selected verses
Quite often I find myself writing in response to life – reporting, reflecting, and writing commentary in response to what has happened. One of my favorites is to pass along insight and wisdom I have gleaned from other people – particularly the guys in one of my Bible-study groups.
Today I’m switching it around, and I am writing about this evening’s meeting before it happens. I’m doing this partly to help myself prep for the discussion, and partly because I have no idea where the discussion will go!
It’s always a challenge with 12-15 intelligent, thoughtful, diverse, opinionated men in the “Zoom-room.” It’s more of a description than a joke to say that, “Where two or three Presbyterians gather together there will be at least four or five different points of view”.
So my focus this evening will be taken from Psalm 46, above. “Be still, and know that God is God.”
This will be the opening prayer:
We love this Psalm, God, but we must admit that we are tired of the whole “be still” idea. We know. We know already! We are a people, a church, a family of faith defined by doing. We like to get busy via initiatives such as Random Acts of Kindness, not so random acts of feeding the hungry, walking through Bethlehem – that’s walking, Lord, not standing around watching on some screen, coming together for worship, hugging and shaking hands, mission projects involving hammers and nails and more hugging, being together – in person – actually aware of body language… and did we mention the hugging? So yes, we get the cue when it comes to your direction about being still. So please meet us here, in our stillness, in our frustration, in our commitment to live as faithful disciples. And, yes, we are still grateful, and still overflowing with praise. Amen.
Here are a few of the Bible translations for God’s instructions in verse 10:
- Be still and know;
- Let be and be still;
- Stop fighting and know;
- That’s enough! Now know that I am God;
- Calm down and learn;
- Let go of your concerns – then you will know;
- Be in awe and know;
- Stand silent, know;
- Attention all! See the marvels of God;
- Cease your striving and recognize…;
- Surrender your anxiety, be silent and stop your striving;
I plan to ask the guys to share their own understanding of what it means to come to the end of themselves, to stop the ineffective application of frenetic self-sufficiency, and simply lean into their knowledge of who God is, and who they are in relation to the supreme majesty of our Creator?
This psalm challenges us to think about, and to talk about, what things we fear; it asks us to consider how faith reassures us in not just the big concerns but in the ebb and flow of our day-to-day lives; it presents a vision of a God who is present and active in this world; it says that God is with us in ways that are proactive and victorious against the powers that define life in opposition to faith and God’s initiatives of mercy and grace.
As disciples of Jesus we are at our best when we do what is necessary to reset our focus and to rest in a deeper and renewed understanding of who God is and of who we are called to be as God’s people.
I really like the first of the slides (below) – unattributed – that I found in Google Images. It gives the “Be Still” admonition a kind of gravitas it is hard to ignore.
Peace, and more peace – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.