Recently I moved to a new apartment, much nicer than where I had been living. At my old place, the tub didn’t have a slanted back, so if I wanted to take a bubble bath, I just sat there in the middle of the tub like a gigantic baby.
At my new apartment, the tub is slanted and the bathroom is toasty, perfect for soaking. As I listened to the bubbles sizzling around me last week, I glanced at the new wall hanging I found at Hobby Lobby to match my “sea” themed bathroom decor. It says, “Stronger than the waves of the sea is His love for you.”
It took me back to the Scripture passage about Jesus calming the storm as the disciples were going across the Sea of Galilee. “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).
Be still. Those words made me think of another quintessential verse about stillness. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Clearly, stillness is important to God—in fact you might say that stillness is a trait of God. I think of Elijah on the mountain, facing wind, earthquake, and fire, but after the fire came a still small voice. God had arrived and brought the stillness, just as Jesus did that night on the tumultuous Sea of Galilee.
Being still puts us in a helpless state, with time on our hands and control out of our hands. In fact, being still might be harder than anything else God asks us to do. So why does He command us to be still?
Being still puts us in a helpless state, with time on our hands and control out of our hands. In fact, being still might be harder than anything else God asks us to do.
To save us from ourselves.
Stillness is one of God’s priorities, but it isn’t one of ours, is it? We seem to think that the busier we are, the farther ahead we’re getting. When we look at people who meditate or take long walks or just stare out an open window, we tend to think that they’re getting behind. The world has wired us to do more, to be faster, to be louder, But it’s “a gentle and quiet spirit” that God treasures. (Jesus commended Mary for doing nothing, yet admonished Martha for trying to do everything [Luke 10:38–42]). Physically, mentally, and spiritually, we’re unable to keep up with the demands of life if we don’t take time to refocus, to regain our composure, to stop moving if only for a few minutes.
To not distract from His work.
Being still takes the pressure off us—but it’s kind of stressful, especially for the micro-managers among us. But I think that God wants us to be still so that we and others can see Him work. When they were facing the Red Sea, God told the Israelites, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13).
And before it says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46 explodes with action verbs: the earth is removed, the mountains carried off and shake, the waters roar, kingdoms moved, the earth melted. God ends wars, breaks bows, cuts spears, burns chariots. There’s a lot going on, until the end of the chapter when God gives us our orders—which is just to be still and watch as he is “exalted among the nations [and] in the earth.”
He can’t be exalted if we are constantly distracting from His work, trying to take credit ourselves. We want to do things to help people; but sometimes a prayer is better than a bail out, and letting someone watch God provide is more beneficial for them than watching us try to save the day.
To stand out from the world.
Without looking it up in a concordance, I would assume that still is a verb, something that we’re supposed to do—by ceasing to do. However, it could be an adjective, a command to be characterized by stillness. But I also think that it can be used as a noun. In other words, God is commanding us to be stillness itself.
The world is full of clamor and noise—the sounds of creatures distracting themselves from thinking about important things. So in what way could we possibly testify of the transformation of salvation than by being still?
I Thessalonians 4:11 admonishes, “Study to be quiet” and I Timothy 2:2 says, “Lead a quiet and peaceable life.” When I read those verses during the 2016 election, they really struck me. Many of my Christian friends on Facebook were belligerent and hostile, posting things that, besides being petty, were divisive. They were looking for fights. It was a blessing to be reminded that Christians are to lead a quiet life—not a dominated life or a silenced life but a quiet and peaceable life, meaning that we don’t seek strife, but rather we seek to end it. God even gave us the recipe for extinguishing fires of noise or anger: “A soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Perhaps God calms us so that we may be the calm in the world.
At this point in my thoughts, my bath water was getting cold, so I pulled the plug. As the water drained, I wondered, Does being still mean doing nothing? I mean, what exactly are we supposed to do while being still?
But I guess that’s a thought for another bubble bath.