Be Still

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“Be still and know that I am God: and I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

About a hundred yards from our front porch there is a stump in the midst of the hardwoods on our five acres. It’s a good stump and it is a great place to have a seat and ponder things. (I like the word ponder!) On a chilly day last week I was pondering on my stump and the verse from Psalm 46 came to mind and I began to reflect on what is meant to “be still and know that I am  God”.

The first thought that comes to mind is this isn’t a suggestion, it’s more like a command. Be still! I’m reminded of the early days of raising children and how many times I “commanded” my children to be still. As I remember they didn’t listen any more than we do when we hear this command, ”be still” in the Psalms. What is it about us when we can’t “be still” long enough to “know God”? Isn’t that what we Christian are to be about in our journey? To know God, to love God, and to make God known! That’s a basic directive to each and every Christian.

To “be still and know that I am God” is important for our growing in the knowledge and love of God. Or, at least it should be!  It implies that in order for us to “know” God we need to simply to be quiet, (which is how most of us understand stillness to be) but it is more than being quiet, it requires us to stop what we are doing, completely, and focus on God. Its rather like repentance in that regard. Repentance is not about feeling sorry for what you have done wrong (although that’s important) it is about stopping what we are doing and changing direction. Quit doing what you are doing and go in another direction. Preferably the direction God calls us into through his Son Jesus Christ.

To “be still” is to recognize how out of control our life has become, overwhelmed by the things of this world and change our direction. We need only to turn on the TV, read your Twitter or Facebook account (Ugh!) to realize how un-informed we are of the things of God and more informed by the things of the world. What defines us in the modern age? Where is that peace that passes all understanding? Only we can make that change, consciously and intentionally to “be still and know that I am God”.

You’d be pleasantly surprised what you can hear and see when you are truly “still”. In my small part of the world, on my stump. I can actually hear deer crunch the corn I put out for them. Or the song of the Carolina Chickadee and the Cardinal calling his mate. Its amazing how cleansing stillness can be. Through these creatures of God’s songs I am guided to a place where I sit in awe of God and all His wondrous works. Guided to a place where I can begin to be touched by God’s mystery and power, an experience that can draw me into a deeper understanding of the mighty works and what He continues to do in through his son Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist was right “He is exalted in all the earth”. As a result He is exalted in my heart too.

In a few short weeks we will begin our Lenten pilgrimage. It is my hope and prayer that each of you will find a time and a place “To be still and know that I am God…” so that you too may exalt him in your heart. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you will find!

From the Mountain,

Bishop Paul

Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.