Be Still

"Be still and know that I am God." This commandment from Psalm 46:10 is something I have been trying to grasp for most of my life. The grasping, I find, sometimes is even counter-productive to the very thing He is asking me to do. It's funny, because I hear this over and over again, and I think I know what it means. However, as I quiet my mind and focus on Him, it seems like every other thing is trying to grab my attention. It's a part of spiritual warfare and also a part of the natural incompetency of the human mind. I like to more formally call it distraction and worry.
 
Even now, as I write, I am thinking about all the obligations on my to do list, of which may or may not be of true importance. For the past month or so in this season of stillness, I have been plagued with more worry and fear than I have in months. I am led to believe there are several reasons for this; one being that we are still in a global pandemic and there is much uncertainty about the future. Another being that I am in a transition time in my life and it feels as though I haven't been given clear direction about what's next. Sprinkle a little financial instability and a few life-altering revelations in there and I quite literally have a recipe of a really big migraine and several sleepless nights.
 
So how, you may ask, does one find stillness in this season and keep the Lord's simple desire of trusting Him? I am not completely sure at the moment, but in seasons past I have learned one thing; if I try to do things on my own, I always fail and end up in a big mess. I think there is something to be said about letting go of what I am holding onto and allowing God to help me steer the sleigh, so to speak. I don't completely let go, because there are tasks that He has called me to and doors He has asked me to knock on. However, I also don't take control and hold on so tightly that I send the sleigh over a cliff. In this journey of discovery, there is a time where He invites me to step off of the ride and enjoy the snow for a little while. It enlightens my perspective and gives me peace and clarity for the next destination ahead. Each day's tasks and paces are truly different. I think winning in any season, still or not, simply looks like trusting God no matter what He is saying or the atmosphere you are currently in with Him.
 
In this particular season of slowing down for me, it looks like me going with God's pace. I am still moving, but I slow down and speed up with Him. Also, He even allows me to set the pace some days. I will know when I am getting ahead of Him, because He will tell me. Right now, He is giving me opportunities to go down different routes to see if He is there waiting. At the same time, the moments of stillness looks like us enjoying the ride and the scene around me. In seasons like this, I learn His character, His love for me, and what it actually looks like to hope and trust in Him. It gives me strength for busier times and tangible experience with Him to remember His kindness, the beauty of His world, and all of the reasons why He chose me to be alive. When I am released back into my mission, I may not have these opportunities to really dive into being present with just us together for a prolonged period of time. So I try to take advantage of it, and say no to the worry and distraction that would want to threaten our intimacy.
 
Some practical things I do in the waiting of what is to come:
 
  • I take care of myself, or at least try to. My emotional, physical, and spiritual health is important to God and if I am lacking in these areas, it is going to affect every aspect of my life. So, I spend time working out, eating right, making healthy connections with people I love, getting counseling from trusted advisors, and spending ample time in prayer, scripture, listening to His voice, and soaking in His presence. Not all days do I get it 100%, but I do try and trust that He will make up for the areas that are lacking.
 
Tip: Ask yourself, "How am I doing and what do I need?" That should lead you to an area you are falling short in that the Lord desires to fulfill in some capacity.
 
  • I let myself get enough sleep. If I am not falling asleep well at night because of worry, I try to let myself wake up naturally, giving myself time to gain what was lost. I try to go to bed at a decent hour, but also allow myself a little room to go past a bedtime, if needed, to enjoy company with family or friends. I also take naps during the day if I need one, and allow myself not to feel condemnation for it.
 
Tip: set a bed time or routine for seasons of stillness, and naturally your body will adjust and it will bleed into your more busy seasons as well. Humans have limitations and needs, and sleep is one of them; so keep it sacred!
 
  • I give myself space to dream. In seasons past, I would dream about the upcoming semester; my role at Wesley, what the Lord desires for me and the people I lead, and what God desires to do in our ministry. I still am asking those questions, and letting Him lead me for what is coming shortly. However, I am also dreaming for my next assignment to begin in the next year or so. Practically, this looks like talking to God (a lot), research, asking questions, connecting with people who are actively working/involved in areas of interest, and taking steps towards specific preparations that would set me up to be considered for positions and equipping.
 
Recently, I have been looking over all the things I have written down from the past about dreams and asking God about them. I have been going through all my prophetic words, dreams at night, and pivotal moments of life where the Lord captured my heart about my destiny. I am simply praying through them.
 
Tip: Always remember what He has spoken over you and revealed to you. Even if it was seven years ago or more, it is still important.
 
  • I continue the assignments God has given me for the current season. I don't stop when I am on break. I still continue reaching out to people, encouraging them, praying for the Church/Wesley, and other specific tasks God has spoken to me. Very specifically He has asked me to write out my story. So, I am going through my old journals and writing everything that sticks out to me. Then, I will begin making it into a cohesive work. Also, I am reading lots of books for equipping and healing; ones that He has asked me to read.
 
Tip: Don't overwhelm yourself with being "ready" for what's next, just do the simple things He has asked you to do and you will be ready. Also, take the things He has asked you to do seriously. We truly do love Him well when we obey His commands, because He knows exactly what is best for us!
 
  • I rest and replenish. To me, reading, and revisiting words, dreaming, praying, and worshiping is all refueling. However, sometimes it isn't always restful. Therefore, I am trying to implement more rest into my process by taking one day a week to literally do nothing; this is actually a real commandment from God, but can be extremley hard to abide by. During these days, I try to do things that I enjoy, whether it's reading a fiction book, going on a walk somewhere, drawing, watching a movie, or spending time with friends. It's tempting to do assignments or mull on the future, but in this rest comes greater revelation and clarity anyway!
 
Tip: Allow yourself one full day if you can and prepare everything before hand. If you hate doing laundry, do laundry the day before. Have your room and kitchen clean. Cook before, if you hate to cook. Or, if you love cooking, do it on the sabbath! Also, allow yourself to eat whatever you like. It's a celebration of the week before and the week to come!
 
  • I enjoy God and the present season. This is something that I can admit I am struggling with right now, but God is giving me a grace to learn. I used to be better when the future wasn't knocking so soon, but God has specifically told me that I will regret missing out on the current place that I am in if I keep all of my focus on what's ahead. It's kind of like the sleigh metaphor again; He wants me to enjoy the slower pace of the ride and the snow in its company. His presence is in the here and now. So, I let myself really look at the environment around me; I ask God where He is. I ask Him what He is doing. I try to move a little slower than normal and remember my first love. Practically, I have a ring on my left hand to remind me that He is my love and intimacy is always first before everything. I also try to get my hands on some good study books or magazines that get me to slow down with God. As I am reading, I ask Him what He is saying and where He is within the author's words, etc. These are ways that help me. Worship and prayer drives or walks are great for this, too. Sometimes, I'll stick in my headphones and tune out the world for a few seconds to focus on Him. Other times, He wants the headphones out, so that I can pay attention to the person that is in front of me as well.
 
Tip: So, give yourself freedom to enjoy God and be present every single day! Tell Him in the morning that the day is yours and His together and you will gladly embark on an adventure with Him.
 
Overall in this season of being still and knowing that He is God, He has asked me to try to balance it all with Him and simply do what He is saying each day in trust that He will come through. Remember, we only have grace for one day at a time; in a busy season or a still season. Do what He is telling you to do for today, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own.
 
Jesus's words:
 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
 
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - 
Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

Author | Emily Helton

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