Some of the best and worst moments of my life have happened in stillness. When the only sound was the shallowness of my breathing and the intensity of my beating heart. I have broken, bled, rejoiced, interceded, wept, and worshiped when the rest of the world faded to gray.
I remember as a teenager reading the scripture that referenced "entering into one's prayer closet..." I took that very literally and spent the rest of the afternoon locked up in my bedroom closet willing God to speak to me. I felt utterly alone, desolate even. Forgotten. But this is what my interpretation of stillness was. Shutting a door to the world and retreating to a place that forces you to examine. I remember that my closet has mint green flocked damask wallpaper that didn't match the rest of my room. I remember that I stored my old pictures in there, as well as my stuffed dog that I slept with every night, but denied every doing so. I remember that I never heard a chorus of angles sing, or experience a heavenly beam of light, or was subject to a powerful voice that spoke wise sonnets. But i also remember knowing that it was OK that I did not partake in these things, and also feeling that God had still shown up in a very real way. And that was the point all along I guess.
When the world stops trying so hard, and the safety of the night steps into play, we all feel safer to know we cannot try anymore to be whatever it is we tell ourselves we need to be. The day is done. Our responsibilities, whether they were handled correctly or not, have come to a close. The kids in bed, the spouse fed and comfortable. Sigh. Then I am...dare I say...Still. Or as close to still as I can be. As much as anxiety, technology, and ADD would allow me. Why is it that being still comes with a huge heaping side of guilt? What in our day to day culture has told us that it is unacceptable to simply, for a moment, to exist... without an agenda? Why is that a frightening thought. Turn off the T.V. Turn off your phone. Shut off your computer for 5 minutes. Just sit in total silence.
Does that bring anyone else feelings of discomfort? Panic even? Because then there are no distractions. No buffer for our hurts. Our thoughts aren't drowned out. Our God's voice not stifled. No containment for reality. And we are a culture that relys on these things. We would rather watch other people's realities and judge them on popular TV programming , then take one solitary look at what our own reality is. Because it hurts too much. To take that one step further, our culture tells us that we have to be busy to be considered successful. Our churches say we have to attend X amount of ministries to be a servant. Our mentors are saying we have to work overtime to make the life our family deserves. FALSE. All that is false. My mother always said that God calls us to be human beings, not human doings. He calls us to the beautiful picture of warm conversation with close friends, meaningful experiences with our spouses, on the floor play time with our children. He is a God of slow Sunday mornings, coffee after dinner, and sitting in blissful silence just to appreciate the sound of it. One of the most comforting things God says to me in the Bible is "Be still and know that I am God..." He is not only giving us permission, but demanding that we stop the attempt to impress Him...Essentially He is saying "Allow yourself to be who you are, with all of your sin, and all of your hurt, and just sit in My presence and let Me love you. Because your sin is never to big for My love." Oh yes please. Live in stillness this week.