Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
One of the hardest commands in scripture for us to obey is the command to stillness.
We don’t like to be still. We post speed limit signs on every freeway and street because we will not naturally limit ourselves. We want to get where we are going as quickly as possible. We shave off valuable seconds by following our navigation apps, which are constantly looking for faster ways to get where we are going. We move at a frenetic pace.
If we are still, how can we be productive? We are a country of doers and movers and shakers. We strive and work. We are constantly on the move. Our ability to produce and always keep busy is a source of pride and gives us a sense of identity. Stillness is counter-productive.
In stillness there is silence. Silence is hard for us. In the silence we hear the deafening sounds of our fears about the future, our anxieties about the present and our doubts about ourselves. If we can keep ourselves busy enough and move fast enough perhaps we can outrun all of the questions and fears that are buried just beneath the surface. So we keep our ear buds in our ears and turn up the volume. If we can distract ourselves with music and podcasts and Instagram and Facebook and Tik-Tok and Netflix we feel safer because the noise shuts out the stifling silence.
I wonder – in all of our activity – are we running to something or are we running from something? Are we running from the nagging feeling that if we don’t produce we are not significant? Are we running from questions, or guilt or shame or fear? We wonder, if we slow down and allow for silence would waves of darkness crash over us? So we run, we produce, we achieve and we never slow down.
Now we have a global pandemic that is forcing us to slow down. Quarantining at home has put the brakes on our frenetic pace. What will we do with that time? Will we see this time as a gift from God? Maybe because we do not choose to be still, God is forcing us to be still.
Why does God want us to be still? God built stillness into creation. God rested on the seventh day. God gave man a day of rest and stillness as a gift. He called it Sabbath. As we stay at home we have the opportunity to see it as a gift from God. What will we receive if we actually rest and seek God In the stillness?
IN STILLNESS WE HEAR GOD.
We are too busy to hear God. Our lives have too little margin so we miss out on the voice of God. If you want to hear God stop looking for Him to speak in the few seconds you give Him each week. God is not just trying download information to you He is seeking conversation and relationship. This takes time. In the book of 1 Kings Elijah sought to hear from God.
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13
God is not going to try to shout above the noise of your life. He wants you to want Him. He wants you to value Him above everything else. This means we need to put aside everything else to hear Him. Use this time of quarantine to hear from God. He has already stripped away so much in our lives that has kept us from hearing Him.
IN STILLNESS WE FIND GOD TO BE SUFFICIENT.
So much of our busyness and activity is an attempt to be significant. It is an attempt to find sufficiency within ourselves. After all, if we can’t depend on ourselves then who can we depend on? When we are still we see that God is the one who we can depend on. The more we rest in God the more we see that God has always been the one who is at work. The more we rest in God, the more we will realize that the only true rest is found in Him. You have the opportunity as you shelter in place to truly know that God is enough.
IN STILLNESS WE ARE PREPARED FOR SOMETHING GREATER.
God has long put His people in places of stillness to prepare them for a greater purpose. Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness tending sheep before he led the nation of Israel out of Egypt. Joseph spent 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit before God used him to save the nation of Israel from a famine. Paul spent three years in Arabia after his conversion before he came back to preach the gospel. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying before he began his public ministry.
In stillness God can prepare you to be used by Him for great things. He is shaping you and refining you. We spend so much of our time keeping busy so our lives will amount to something but in all of our activity we are increasingly frustrated by our futility. Ironically we find our greatest purpose and significance in stillness. This is the place where we finally stop depending on ourselves and fully embrace the power of God. In the stillness He works eternity in you and through you for His glory and for His kingdom. In stillness our lives take on significance and meaning because this is the place where we find God.
Embrace stillness. It is in the stillness that we can hear God. It is in the stillness you find God. It is in the stillness that you will find that God is all you need.
8 thoughts on “Finding God In A Global Pandemic”
A powerful and timely word, Pastor Paul. Amazing that God seeks alone time with us, but eternally rewarding when we slow down and listen!
God is our great reward.
The way that God uses the still and quiet times as preparation makes them significant and full of hope. But only if our eyes and our hope and on Him. So true! Praying for you in this waiting time Paul. What a blessing, right?!?
There is much blessing in stillness. The great reward is God himself.
I had a time in my life when I was in charge of so many things young mom, teacher, demonstrated programs for IBM and took care of all the Wednesday and Sunday children’s programs. It was nuts. Later in my life I got sick with a rare disease I could do none of it. That was when I learned about prayer, about God’s faithfullness, about my husband’s love and about needing God’s people . That was the most productive time and that has become my normal now Praise God for stillness and silence
What a beautiful thing when silence and stillness become a normal part of our lives. I don’t want to go back to the old normal in that regard.
Wow – that was really a good message Paul. Thank you so much.
Interesting how God works – the verses from Kings that you quoted were the same verses Lisa and I read yesterday in our read-through-the -Bible in a year.
Also, I was sitting in the living room and I clicked on “read” for your email and the reader voice was very fast (1.5X). Lisa walked by and listened for a while and then started laughing…here I was listening to your message on “Stillness” being played in hyper speed. Pray for me a sinner! I am the person you were describing. also I was thinking as an Orthodox now, Monks are held in such high esteem and I can’t really relate or “get it”. They chose the life they chose for the very reason you outlined – finding that in God alone we find our purpose and meaning and life.
Thank you Paul!! Keep them coming.
In Christ, David >
God has a way of reinforcing messages he wants us to hear. God has been teaching me a lot recently about the value of slowing down and staying still and quiet before Him. He is always speaking I am just not always listening.