I so often forget, or purposefully overlook one of the most beautiful gifts God has given us; Rest.
The words “Be still and know that I am God,” echo in my mind as I sit and ponder the tasty fruit God has placed before me today. The message at church today was that he leads us beside the still waters and restores our soul. It was such a timely word, for as of late, I really feel as though auto pilot has taken over. My life is just so insane right now with Cam being gone for work and now this missions trip he is on, and when he gets back he is taking his Masters and then more work. It is just this never ending, ongoing busy life that neither one of us ever remembered signing up for. My world on the other hand is Diapers and Dora the Explorer but no less busy as I try to juggle house, and home. I just feel lost some days, Auto pilot, cruise control, Zombie mommy. I Miss Cameron but I am afraid to talk about it or even think about it. And then in a total unexpected turn of events, my house nearly caught on fire today as I was trying to implement this rest idea. Cambell (5yr) decided to move the applebutter simmering on the stove and put a pizza box there, so that he could help dish it up. I ran down stairs just in time to put the box in the sink and put out the fire! The smoke alarms are (new in the box) in the dungeon (the room for forgetting things… Don’t ask, just another 5 million things to add to the “when daddy gets home list.”) Thankfully, burnt cardboard smells really awful and my nose became the fire alarm.
So again I found myself putting rest on hold. No I didn’t think “Being Still” was going to be easy. In fact it will be harder for me to do that than almost anything. Like the poor widow in the bible who gave from a place of real sacrifice, I feel as though “Quiet Time” is often an extravagant show of my love. I live beside a raging waterfall of the endless needs of others, so the thought of going downstream to still waters sounds very good to me. It is just so loud here that I don’t exactly know how to get there. I feel alone in this struggle and yet I know I am no different from a lot of other women or men who are just wondering how to find the “Stillness”.
The Old Testament story of Elijah and the whisper, always kind of rubbed me the wrong way to be honest. It is a Sunday school classic of how God wants us to quiet ourselves. But often we take what God was trying to say and turn it into church curriculum rather than just looking at truth he reveals of his amazing personality. The scene is that Elijah has fled because his life has been threatened. Forty some days of wandering (in a desert) have passed since he fled and now asleep in a cave on a mountain he is awoken by God.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Time and time again it is taught that this verse means you must wait for the storm to pass and for the silence to hear God, but pay attention! God had already spoke to Elijah, in fact he asked him a question that after forty days of wandering you would hope someone would know the answer to. “What are you doing here?” What I see is this:
First. God cares about where we are both physically and spiritually. His first recorded question to Adam and Eve after they had sinned and were hiding from God in the garden was about where they were. Being still before God has to do with the placement of our heart as much as the placement of our feet. He wants to be present in our life.
Second, the storm was not where God was. Elijah had done and seen it all, from the glorious moments of God’s almighty miraculous hand of power to the evil works of the dominions of Hell. The high and lows of Elijah’s life were unlike anything I have ever seen or gone through and here God is showing him a hurricane like twister, an earthquake and a fire. So basically Elijah is on Mount Doom as it is Erupting! God is not in the storm but he is not absent from Elijah while he endures it. Then comes a whisper so powerful that Elijah is forced to cover his head. As he listens God asks the same question as before. “What are you doing here?” Sometimes we do have the choice to leave our storm, we can turn off the noise of the TV, the cell phone, the aps and all the other stuff that we use as dysfunctional and unsatisfying forms of rest. In this day and age of modern short cuts, like fast food, light at the flip of a switch, running water and grocery stores we should have more time than ever to sit and be still before God, and yet we fill it with noise and rushing waterfalls. I have four kids and yet I still have time to get lost in Candy Crush and Pinterest for more hours than I care to admit. Sometimes we need to ask what God spoke to Elijah, "What are we doing here?"
Other storms are a little less moveable by human means but the truth is that my God is more powerful than any storm and his gentle whisper is loud enough to be heard even after the most tumultuous storms of life. At the sound of his voice what will we encounter? And what will we choose to do with what he has spoken to us?
Many Years after this encounter between God and Elijah another miraculous encounter happened. On a boat in the midst of a great storm a group of men called out to a Savior. And Jesus calmly spoke, be still, and waters were calm before him.
Jesus Calms the Storm
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Are we fleeing from our fears, wandering a dessert and climbing a mountain just to hear God’s voice? Are we in a boat bailing out buckets of water and throwing all of our labor overboard to survive a storm all the while asking Jesus why he doesn’t care? Or do we sleep in the front of the boat, awake and call out “Quiet! Be still” to the storms. I don’t get to choose my storms, but I do get to choose how they affect my peace in this life. I will decide whether I fear, panic, doubt and let the storm consume me, or if I will stand and wait for the whisper that is all I need to remind me of the mighty power of the God that I serve. God is not the devastating storms in our life, and when he asks me, just like he asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” I am going to say, “I am here “In your hand” to do your will.”
I have so many storms, and so few quiet opportunities, but God showed me that on that mountain of every known natural disaster known to man, Elijah wasn’t responsible for quieting the storms. God was. We need to know that God can whisper louder than any storm. Whether our life is calm and quiet or bombarded by storm after storm, We can hear Him. And if the storms are raging too violently to keep calm, ask him to quiet the storm. He calms the waters, and He brings the moments needed for intimate rest. Psalm 23 Says, HE LEADS ME, beside still waters. He leads, I just need to follow.
Father I pray that as I learn to follow your leading that all the storms will be calmed, and even in those moments where all seems lost that I will remember who you are and what you have spoken over me. Help me Lord to be still. I have a history of noise and motion and need a future filled with quiet and still. You can calm the raging water, so you can calm my wild heart. I love you Lord and ask for you to lead me to those still waters. I don't want you to have to ask me where I am or Why I am anywhere, because I want to be where you are!