"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
It seemed peaceful and strange at the same time. As I walked to my office on Saturday morning, nothing seemed to be stirring. I walked through quiet streets. The main intersection in town was completely empty. As I looked north and south along the road, I could see no cars moving into the intersection, no movement at all. It was an eerie feeling, like the town was deserted, yet at the same time it felt peaceful. By the time I walked home at noon, the streets were again alive with movement.
One of the reasons that I enjoy getting up early is for the quiet solitude. I have always valued the times when I could get up ahead of others and, in a sense, have the world to myself. I have made it a habit to arrive in my office at least an hour before others arrive so that I can have some quiet, uninterrupted time. Most mornings I use this time for my personal devotions. It is a time for me to be alone with God. If I am not intentional about this, the busyness of life will crowd out my time with God. I have discovered that busyness is the enemy of quiet.
One of the things that I have been learning in my new position is how I have become programmed to be busy. Being the pastor of a medium sized church meant that there was always something going on. I had regular responsibilities that filled my schedule every week. When I wasn’t busy, I looked for things I should be doing to fill the time. In my position as the interim pastor in a small church, the demands on my time have been drastically reduced. To be honest, I have struggled with this slower pace. I have felt a little guilty for not being as busy as I used to be. I believe God is trying to teach me what it means to be still and know that He is God.
We live in a society that has made busyness a virtue. Anything less than living at full throttle is seem as shirking our duty. The consequence is that we are running ourselves ragged. I recently read a chapter in “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” about Sabbath. Sabbath is a concept that God ordained to keep us emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy. Today, the concept of Sabbath is almost nonexistent.
The idea of Sabbath is that we are to take one day a week to pull away from the regular demands of our busy lives and spend time in rest and worship. God gave us this as a command for our good. If we become legalistic about this, we can turn it into a burden instead of a blessing, just as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had done. The point is that we need to find regular times to get off of the tread mill and be quiet before God. We all need time to push the pause button and allow our batteries to recharge. There are many ways to experience Sabbath. We don’t all recharge in the same way. The question is, do we trust God enough with the demands of life to take the time to be still?
Jesus regularly got away by himself for the purpose of recharging his spiritual batteries. He would get up early in the morning and go to a quiet place to pray. Jesus could have very easily been pushed into a 24/7 style of ministry. But He refused to let the demands of his ministry overwhelm him. On several occasions, it is recorded that Jesus called a time out and pulled away from the crowd to be alone. At the end of His life he was able to pray, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4) It is obvious that Jesus didn’t do everything He could have done. He did everything that the Father wanted Him to do.
Busyness is a part of our life. There are many things that make demands on our time and energy. These are not necessarily bad things, although, at time, they can become overwhelming. In the midst of the busyness of life, we dare not buy into the idea that busyness alone is the goal. What we need is discernment to determine what is the best use of our time. We need the courage to embrace our limits. We need to give ourselves permission to take the time to be still.
I value my Saturday morning quiet. It gives me the time to truly prepare myself for Sunday.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.