“Be still and know that I am God”
On holiday on the Greek island of Patmos, I visited the ‘Cave of the Apocalypse’ where, according to tradition, John had his visions which are recorded in the New Testament book of Revelation. John was banished to this remote rocky island and imprisoned because of his faith in Christ. This set me thinking about what John would have done with all that time on his hands during his imposed isolation.
Many of us normally lead busy lives, whether working or retired. Our time is very precious – there never seems to be enough for all the things which we want and need to do. How often do we wish that there were more hours in a day. But nowhere in the Bible does it tell us that Jesus rushed or hurried. Within his short public ministry, he had time to choose and train his disciples, preach, teach, heal, and despite the pressures on him, he still had time for people and their needs. While Jesus lived on earth he was restricted to a 24 hour day, just like us, and we are told he experienced tiredness just as we do. This set me thinking, ‘How did He manage to do everything he needed to do in such a short amount of time’?
Scripture tells us that Jesus used to get up early in the mornings and spend time alone with His Heavenly Father. This is how he knew what His priorities were, how He managed His time. Similarly, it is by spending time alone with God, which some people call a ‘Quiet Time’, that we will find a right perspective on our lives, and allow Him to show us what His priorities for us are for each day. By doing this and thereby following Jesus’ example, we will learn to use our precious time more effectively and efficiently, and know what activities to pick up and which to set aside for now, and which to unload for good.
One Christian writer commented, ‘Don’t get so involved with the work of God that you neglect the God of the work!’ If we don’t make time alone with the Lord a priority, we all know that this can get ‘squeezed out’ by all the usual busyness of each day. Jesus recognized the importance of withdrawing for a time from the pressures and demands of the multitudes, especially when he was tired, and we can learn from him by taking time out of our busy schedules to be quiet before him, and get refreshed, ‘re-focussed’, and re-energized. But under the current situations when some of us are self-isolating, and all of us our practising social-distancing, many of us are now facing the opposite problem – how to fill all this spare time on our hands. As our pastor, Nick, shared with us last Sunday, these new circumstances that we find ourselves in can be an opportunity for us to ‘Be still and know that He is God’; an opportunity to spend time with the Lord, finding refreshment and renewal in His presence, getting to know Him better.
I’d like to share with you a lovely Japanese (Toki Miyashina) paraphrase of Psalm 23 which has helped me to ‘be still and know that He is God’.
The Lord is my pace-setter:
I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals
He provides me with images of stillness.
Which restores my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind
And his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day.
I will not fret
For his presence is here.
His timelessness, His all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares me refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity
By anointing my mind with the oil of tranquility
my cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
shall be the fruit of my hours, for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord
and dwell in His house forever.