Learning to be still in spite of life’s demands
Noise. It is everywhere, whether we like it or not, invading our senses and distracting focus. We are surrounded by media, technology, traffic, society… Noise is not always audible, though. Sometimes we create our own mental clutter and prevent ourselves from peace. Our minds become a volley of tasks, worries, and preoccupations, and our schedules add to the chaos. The idea of stillness is a distant dream or a laughable fantasy, in spite of admonitions like that of Psalm 46 (“Be still and know that I am God”). Yet God clearly commands stillness. How do we get there? With so many demands and needs, with our minds clanging in all directions, how can we possibly find quiet?
Perhaps an old hymn would serve as a helpful reminder. In 1855, Kathrina von Schlegel penned the comforting words to “Be Still, My Soul.” Later set to the Sibelius tune “Finlandia,” this serene song follows a beautiful progression of lyrics that call us back to a sense of hope in God. We must be ever harkening back to this theme. The song opens with a reminder that “the Lord is on (our) side” and will stay with us. The second stanza promises that “the waves and winds still know his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.” This is an important allusion to the story of Mark 4 in which Jesus calmed raging weather with only a simple command. We allow ourselves such worry and fear when stillness is readily available. Or perhaps, as the disciples did, we question Christ’s care for us while failing to recognize His power.
The song continues, as many old hymns do, with verses that emphasize God’s nearness in times of sorrow or trouble. We see Him as solace amidst a sea of grief. And we follow this with anticipation of Heaven: “Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past/ All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.” And the final verse admonishes us to give praise to the master: “Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,/ So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.”
And that is part of the key. When we in our human imperfection try to run the show, we are easily frustrated and discouraged. Only by truly directing our gaze above can we gain true fulfillment. Perhaps we see it best in the words of Isaiah:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. -Isaiah 26:3
The world is a hectic mess…but CHRIST has overcome the world. Let us keep our minds steadfast on HIM, and know that He is worthy of our trust. So be still!