I recently came across notes from a sermon I heard years ago. It was a reflection on Psalms 46. In it, we read, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (v.10). We tend to think of “be still” as being quiet and still so that we can hear God’s voice, that He wants to reveal something to us. While this may be true, there is more to this word – a study into the Hebrew for “be still” will reveal some searching synonyms like: “stop fighting,” “stand empty,” “cease striving,” “stop opposing” and “be still.” Surprisingly you can also find the word – “FAIL.” This last one, in particular, got me thinking!The speaker pointed out two different types of failing. Judas failed, gave up, and committed suicide, while Peter failed, gave up, wept in repentance, and received new life in Father’s care, which led to an incredible life of knowing God and being used by Him. The good news is that it is not failure that keeps us from God, but our refusal to admit it. If we acknowledge our weaknesses, they can become doors to His strength and victory. He exchanges our weakness for His strength. It is His nature to be drawn to the humble who admit their sin. God is for us even in our failures – big or small!
But I sense there is another type of failing – it is allowed by God to bring us to a place of stopping – like being parked in a motorway lay-by! Stopping in ministry, in our walk with Him, to allow Him to bring us into the stillness of a desert place. Stopping as the storm rages around and in us? As a result, it can mean that we experience all of the synonyms mentioned above. Outwardly and dare I say it, inwardly, it can seem like we are failing. But it is there, that He brings us to a new deeper place of knowing, a revelation of Him, of His will, a realignment, a deeper revelation of His heart and will for us.
It is important to know why we are being called to this stillness. Ultimately, it is that we may know Him! The Hebrew word know is yada; it is more than intellectual knowledge, rather, it is the experiencing of an intimate knowing of God. In this stillness the focus is on God and who He is. The psalmist captures this idea in the rest of Psalm 46. The Lord is our refuge. He is our home where we live. Jesus is our life, and we are hidden in Him (Col. 3:3). In Him we have everything we need (2 Pet. 1:3,4). In Christ we have every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). He wants us with Him where He is (Jn. 17:24). Be still… know… I am God!
Lord, In these days of profound upheaval in the world, lead us into that place of truly knowing You! This is what the nations, what Ireland, needs to see in us as Your people. May You be truly exalted in our midst. Amen.