Have you been sitting still when you should be moving, or moving when you should be sitting still? The Scriptures talk a lot about being still and waiting on the Lord, but that does not necessarily mean we should stop.
When you imagine what it means to be still, what do you picture? Perhaps you are sitting on a bench overlooking a beautiful view. Certainly, today the benefits of being still are increasingly promoted against the backdrop of our inherently busy lives. A healthcare website says:
By taking a break from the noise of technology and content consumption, you’ll give yourself a chance to experience greater clarity. With clarity comes better choices that lead to a more fulfilling life. (1)
It is hard to argue with the sentiment. It is important that we learn how to tune out the noise of life and focus on what matters most. And for many of us (myself included) that means forcing ourselves to stop. However, as we ponder what it means to be still and wait on the Lord, I wondered whether it is about more than just stopping, or even if sometimes it doesn’t mean to stop at all.
Perhaps we might discover more regarding what it means to be still when we consider its opposite, that is, being restless. Restlessness is a feeling of discontent. It is a feeling of being incomplete. It is a longing for something missing in life. We all go through seasons of restlessness even when life isn’t too bad. Occasionally being restless can be a valuable motivator or a solution to idleness. However, when examined closely, a restless spirit may be a sign that we need to pause in order to move forward in the right direction. Augustine described this as he wrote ‘[O Lord,] our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.’ Ultimately, the answer to restlessness can be found in God. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians urged the church to bring their anxieties to God, to guard their hearts and minds in Jesus and in the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7).
Rather than doing nothing, Paul advises us to respond to restlessness in prayer, making space to allow God to move in our lives. In this prayer filled stillness is a deep expression of faith and hope. It is learning to commit our life to God each and every day. It is a longing for which we cannot see but hope for in Christ. It is trusting that in God we will find ultimate satisfaction.
Faith shows the reality of what we hope; it is the evidence of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1)
Sometimes we need to be still in order to allow God to move in our lives. At our church we recently held a vote to choose bible verses that would be visible on benches in our community garden. Among the verses chosen, there was a clear theme of resting and waiting on the Lord. Places of rest, such as the community garden, should not necessarily be for providing a place of retreat from the busyness of life, rather, they ought to be places that nurture encounters with God. They testify what faith and trust in God looks like. These places of beauty and stillness are a living conviction that the word of God speaks today. It is a prayer for hope as embodied by Paul who wrote to the Ephesian Church:
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. (Ephesians 1:18)
Dunfermline West Baptist Church
Chalmers Street, Dunfermline