Sunday, August 6, 2023

Be Still and Know (Psalm 46:10)

Here's a verse I thought a lot about during my visit to Hawaii. It's Psalm 46:10. 

The main verb in it is raphah. As you can see, raphah has any number of possible translations. 

The Living Bible translates it "Stand Silent!" Moffat says, "Give in! Admit that I am God." And Eugene Peterson writes, "Step out of the traffic. Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God." 

I run my life at such a pace that I often fail at stopping. On this trip, the Lord told me, "Stop it, Dave! Stand still. Be quiet. Quit talking. Turn off the phone. Disengage from blogging. Reconnect with Me." This disengagement began the moment I saw Kailua Beach from my plane window a week ago Wednesday. 

The verb translated "Be still" is an emphatic imperative in the Hebrew with a causative stem. You're engaged in the decision to stop. No one else can stop your striving for you. The basic idea seems to be to let hang down, and so to be slackened, especially the hands. The word suggests becoming relaxed, slackened, leaving matters to God. It's describing a time when you quietly wait upon God without fear or diffidence and know him to be God. 

Why do I mention this? Because some of you haven't "stopped" in years. I remember being contacted by a church in Illinois several years ago. The deacons had called to ask me if their pastor could come to the farm for a week to put body and soul back together again. "He hasn't had a vacation since he came and he's on the verge of total burnout. Can he come?" I told him we'd be glad to host him for however long he wanted to stay, free of charge (as is our policy with everyone who retreats on our farm). When the deacons told the pastor he was going to the Blacks' farm for a week, he said, "I can't do that! There's way too much work to be done here for me to be gone a whole week." They said, "You're going, or you're fired." Long story short, the man spent a week of seclusion on the farm, and he returned home completely revived in body and spirit. 

Jesus often did the same when he retreated with his disciples to a hiding place where they could release their heavy loads of anxiety, strengthen their slender threads of patience, and most of all remember their heavenly Father. And now this same Jesus invites us to take breathers, to rest up, to gather perspective, to "be still" and meditate on God. That's actually how I spent most of my time on Oahu.

There was more rest than activity. 

Well did Spurgeon say that a mouse might worry if there be enough corn in the granaries or a fish fret about enough water in the sea before a Christian be bothered over the sufficiency of God's grace. "Be still and know." What was provided to the Psalmist is made available to any and all saints today. 

We will honor God and do our age a favor by indulging in a break fitly timed.