April 10, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 3

Firsthand Stillness

Today’s scripture to meditate on: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” -Psalm 46:10

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

Think about it. When was the last time you sat still for even five minutes without being in front of the TV or at the computer? We are always going from one activity to the next. And we like being on the move. Movement keeps our minds and bodies active, but it also keeps us from focusing on our souls and God’s truths.

My (Ryan’s) friend Sarah was one of those people who had to have her schedule filled. She was involved in several clubs, sports, extracurricular activities, and hobbies. She told me she liked being constantly on the move, but it ultimately left her exhausted and empty. “I felt fulfilled for a while,” she said, “but eventually I realized I was so busy with everything that I wasn’t in tune with God or His plans for me. I was exhausted at the end of every day and never felt like I was able to recharge.”

In our world of constant activity, we are suffering from a certain level of motion sickness. We go from one thing to the next and never take time to catch our breath. Many Christians even think that the best path to spiritual transformation is to attend every church event or Bible study until their schedules are packed.

But God’s Word tells us that if we want to be fully transformed by Him, we need the exact opposite of what our society tells us. We don’t need more motion. We need less. The apostle Paul said, “Fix your attention on God” (Romans 12:2, Msg).

And the first step to fixing our attention on our Creator is to be still in His presence and experience a firsthand relationship with the God who made us. Look what God says in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

In our frantic lives, it is crucial that we stop. Not stop to watch a movie or to browse Facebook or even to talk to someone. Just stop. We are commanded to be still and to simply be in the presence of God. No more, no less. This is a discipline that sounds simple, but if you’ve ever tried to be still for more than a minute or so, you know it is difficult.

My (Ryan’s) friend Jon explained his difficulty in learning stillness. “I sit down at the table, open up my Bible, and begin reading. After I get to the second chapter, I’m not even thinking about the words on the page! When I try to just be still and hear God’s voice, my mind starts to wander. I think I’ve been so conditioned to keep moving and stay busy that being still feels unnatural.”

Can you relate to Jon? Being still is difficult! But it’s a necessary component of a truly firsthand relationship with God.

In Psalms we get a clear picture of the fulfillment that can be found in being still in God’s presence. David wrote:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2–3)

Stillness with God invites soul-deep changes. Stillness makes us new again where it really matters.

Why don’t you take a moment to practice being still right now?

Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and close your eyes.

For one minute, stay still with your eyes closed.

In your mind see yourself lying down in green pastures or sitting quietly beside still waters.

Be aware that Christ is with you in that quiet place, and He is giving you His peace.

If you kept reading and didn’t take a moment to pause, then set a time to reread these simple steps and give it a try. We encourage you to set aside five minutes every morning just to be still. What do you do for those five minutes? You can pray if you want, but we challenge you simply to focus on one of God’s character qualities or on being in the presence of Christ.

As difficult as this simple discipline might be, it can be life changing. Anyone who wants to know God firsthand needs to be still before Him regularly.