“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 is a much nicer way to say, “Slow down and shut up”, but it should have the same jarring urgency to it.
At our weekly staff meetings, we always take a chunk of time for different prayer exercises. They not only help us all stay grounded but it would be pretty gross if our staff just got busy cranking out church work without tying all that we do into prayer and seeking God’s direction.
This week Jenny led us in a time of self-examination asking ourselves when we each sense God’s presence more and when we seem more distant from God. We then went around the table and shared our reflections. Now you gotta know, our staff is completely honest and vulnerable with each other, so when we do exercises like this, the tears start flowing, the snot starts dripping, hearts and ears are wide open. It is not like an icebreaker where you go around the circle and say what animal you are most like.
While the particulars differed with our individual lives, it was stunning how similar all our experiences brought forward the theme that God’s presence is much more accessible when we deliberately seek times of quiet and less so when we are all wound up doing a million things, even when they are good things or things we do for the church.
The commandment that is referred to more than all the others in the Old Testament is about keeping Sabbath. In Hebrew, Sabbath means “rest.” The concept of Sabbath should not be restricted to the idea of “a day of rest,” which was Saturdays for Israelites and used to be Sundays for Christians. Some religious traditions get very legalistic about not doing anything on the Sabbath day, and in serious over-reaction, most of us have neglected the concept altogether so we are busy, busy, busy. And exhausted.
I’m guessing we shouldn’t consider our need for Sabbath legalistically anymore than we think breathing regularly is a burden! It just gets our pace on track.
So shut up and slow down, or as the Psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God.”