I once prayed for a friend who found themselves in the midst of a crisis, a friend who was also a believer. I struggled to pray because this person was longer standing in their walk with Jesus than I, and also older and thus wiser? But God continued to challenge me to ignore my youth and to pray. So I did. And I was astonished that He would use prayer to change me. How often do we forget about the log in our own eye – or are completely unaware of it? I now always pray for God to change me... and to bless the other person.
What happened can be best described as this: I saw a picture of my friend running in many directions trying to fix their crisis. Their head was flustered and busy, their sight was scattered. The Lord was with them saying “Be still and know that I am God”.1
This was nothing new. Believers know God should come first. What changed me deeply was hearing my friend’s response.
“I will come to you Lord once I’ve fixed this thing.”
And it hit me.
I do this.
We all do this.
Humanity has always tried to fix things themselves and what we end up with is fig leaves. When something hurts - who sits still? Even numbness or denial is a response of self-protection.
The Lord wanted my friend to be still in the midst of the storm so that He could help guide them through it.
So why don’t we do it? Why aren’t we still? We’re scared. Scared the problem will get worse. Scared we’ll lose precious “fixing” time... and ultimately, deeply, scared that He will fail us. So we keep relying on our own strength; trusting in ourselves just ‘in case’. Yet we hope in God. What an insult really. The ‘maybe God’, the last resort at the end of ‘me’ God.
Our hardwiring has long concluded that being 'still' doesn’t fix a problem. Being 'still' comes after the problem has been fixed. It’s one reason we work so hard to fix it. We all long for rest. That’s why we work so hard at anything the first place. Once we line all the planets up then rest will come. But God says it’s the other way around. Rest in Jesus Christ and from there all things are added unto us.
We are programmed to stop all pain at all cost. No one likes pain. Even with things we know that we can’t fix we at least try! Only then, when our own ways have failed, we go to God, if we believe He is there. Sometimes we may even be angry that He didn’t bless us in our efforts to fix the pain ourselves. And thus we think He won't help us so why should we trust Him with the wheel? We justify that we were right to rely on ourselves. But the Lord is never obliged to reward our own strength. That is works. That is Religion. That is Pride.
A friend once shared that in the middle of a prayerful declaration for someone else, her heart and mouth poured out before God: "I'm so sorry we don't come to you first Lord."
We all do it. It’s not isolated to special individuals. Self preservation is in the DNA of human nature and it’s always faulty and always temporary.
God’s ways are not our ways2, so what if, not just in a crisis, but in all things, we were 'still' enough to hear Him. What if we went to Him first? What if we graciously gave up our ‘right’ to fix it ourselves and asked Him to take the wheel? What if we trusted him enough
to abandon even ourselves?
Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.3
Perhaps if we started with God first and let Him lead instead of our own understanding we would find ourselves connected to the right people at the right time or doors being opened that were once closed or maybe we would discover a way through the situation that would be hidden to a busy, scattered, limited understanding.
Sometimes our chains may require a spiritual freedom that only the Lord can bless us with – what ways of Man could we run to to give us what we truly need?
We know when something needs fixing because it keeps breaking or we feel the hurt it causes, but do we often know what it is we need in order to fix it? Usually my mind and resources become consumed in working this out. But what if I didn't have to work it out?
If the Lord invites us to ‘be still and know that He is God’ it’s not because He needs an ego boost. Obviously, He knows something we don’t. He sees more than we see. When in pain - human nature doesn’t sit still naturally, it’s a choice, one that requires focus and deliberate decision. Everything in us drives us to dull pain, even if we know the outcome is temporary. We manage it through working hard, eating too much or too little, constantly seeking out relationships etc. Let’s admit it – sometimes it even seems cruel that God would ask us to be still, when He knows that pain is uncomfortable. But a broken leg that moves while healing – heals distorted. God wants us to be still for permanent healing not for the long suffering and enduring.
The problem with sin is that we meet our needs illegitimately and it doesn’t satisfy. Only God can meet our deepest needs and bring rest.
The invitation to be still is not so the storm can overtake us but so that we’re quiet enough to hear Him, still enough to receive His touch, brave enough to let Him near the tender places. The invitation is about letting He who knows the way to the other side, Who gives living water to the thirsty and Life to the perishing; guide us in ways that bring not relief but freedom. Life everlasting... Being still enough, to know that He is God.
I wonder how much of God we miss out on because we rely on our own understanding.
Though trusting in yourself makes sense to our flesh and the world celebrates it everyday, I have to ask the question - can I really trust myself? I am simply not all knowing, can't be everywhere and can't be everything to everyone. I am prone to not stopping, to not listening, to not waiting on God and to secruing things for myself, in my ways, not the Lord's. Such is our humanity. Without Jesus as the reference point and God’s word, faithfulness and presence in all of life - I would be like a chicken with its head cut off – no different to the world, searching for answers to stop the discomfort of personal, periodical and even perminant pain.
But with Jesus, I can stop looking in every direction and in every market place and library that claims to have the answer. I can stop and be still still with He who not only has the answer but is the answer.
I want to be still and know that He is God. I want to trust Him with the things I fear He may even fail on me. I want a journey where the things of my world, are overcome by the things of His world. And instead of a myriad of dead-ends and temporary solutions I am willing to be still and let Him shape my winding path and make it straight4 and broaden the road beneath me, so that,5 no matter the terrain, my feet will not stumble.5
1. Psalm 45:10
2. Isaiah 55:8
3. Luke 17:33
4. Proverbs 3:6
5. Psalm 18:36