Saturday, November 9, 2013

Watcha Thinkin’?

"Be still, and know that I am God...." (Psalm 46:10a)

“What are you thinking about?” “Nothing.”  Nothing as an answer works for a moment of zoning out, but like a ditch on a rainy day, it’ll fill up soon enough. I know there are times which I honestly can answer “nothing” as there actually is nothing in specific I am focused on. And there are other times my thoughts are flipping between an assortment of things with no specific focus. Then there are the times when I do try to focus on something, and other stuff tries to pry its way in.

This whole process of thinking can be very relaxing at times, while at other times it can be quite pressing.  There are times when I try to quiet myself to listen, and every small thought I could have of the world crops in. There are other times when I might go before Him to spend time with Him, but there is something else on my mind that I cannot put aside. In both of them I am learning more and more that being still before God is not trying to shut everything else out, but resting in His control over these things knowing that He desires me to come to Him in all things—the big and the small, the pleasant and the pressing—laying it all before Him in petitions and in praise.

My first experiences with Psalm 46:10 were not from reading my Bible, but from cards and posters and seemingly pat comfort phrases. It was kind of like taking a couple of “be still’ aspirins which really didn’t deal with my aches. I had no real knowledge of the verse (not even knowing where it was found most of the time), and I was getting quite frustrated because I found myself unable to be totally still and listen to God.

Then one day I actually looked it up after hearing it quoted in a different translation—the New American Standard Bible (NASB). It read “Cease striving” rather than “Be still.” This gave me occasion to stop and ask just what it meant to ‘be still’ or ‘cease striving,’ and along with that over time, to open to the passage and explore it further.

The first clue that I did not accurately understand the verse was actually found in reading the rest of the verse, which I did in several translations.

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, AV)

“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, NIV84)

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” (Psalm 46:10, NASB95)

Most of them included those same words, ‘be still,’ but they all continued with God being exalted among the nations (or the heathen or unbelievers) and Him being exalted in the earth. As I thought about this I began to realize that this being still had more to do with being quieted in the face of something with the certain knowledge that God wins and that everyone will acknowledge Him in the end.

Next I looked at the verses around it as I read the entire psalm, which I will include here in the New American Standard because it was the Bible which shaped most of my years of learning from God’s Word.

“For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

“Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.

""Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” (Psalm 46, NASB95)

You see, verses 10 and 11 are actually the capping statements in a song about running to God as our hiding place and our strength during times of trouble. He is powerful over the entirety of the earth, including volcanoes, floods, and earthquakes (not to say that these verses are specifically speaking of these, but definitely made me think of them). It is from Him that the streams of life flow and which give us hope even of entering one day into His dwelling place. God is in the middle of all of this, and the earth cannot do anything apart from Him.

And the same truth applies to all of the people who inhabit the earth. He is powerful over kings and wars. He is the one who delivers victoriously. And for that reason, we can rest before His powerful presence knowing that He will indeed be exalted. In that I can find peace for my heart to be calmed and trust to give my struggles over to Him knowing that He is the one who is for me and He is the one who makes me to live victoriously in Him.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31–39, NASB95)

So, now I have learned and continue to be reminded to be thankful for those times when I am truly quiet before Him, knowing that He does have everything firmly under control. These are the times when I find myself worshipping Him and thanking Him for His hand in my life, for Him knowing how to bring me through the big things and the small ones because He truly does care about all of my concerns.

I can be quiet before my God because my God is able to quiet everything else. And when I am not quieted, it is a sure sign that those things have captured my eyes and they serve as a good clue of my need to turn my eyes back on Him.

Lastly, as I looked at 'be still' itself, I was amazed to see that one of the common meanings of the Hebrew word, raphah, is to relax, to let it go. I heard someone describe this once by having us hold onto a ball palms down and fingers apart—try it.

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