Psalm 46:10 – Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (NIV)
Recently one morning, I looked out my window and saw a magnificent drama arise out of the night's heavy deposit of dew. Misty droplets on the tree branches had been transformed into miniature prisms reflecting the rays of the rising sun. The tiny droplets flickered in an ever-changing array of colours. I stood there, mesmerized by the beauty of the twinkling sparkles of light. Suddenly, I felt no need to press on toward the day's duties. This was a sacred moment — a moment to stand still, or rather, to be still.
As I reflect on this experience, I realize how we can become so conditioned to speed on through daily life that we forget how to stand still — I mean, be still — still enough to cherish the blessings in the moment. When our lives become mostly about where we are headed next, we are in danger of never living fully and truly. We are constantly trying to live in what does not yet exist. While we are speeding ahead in this fast lane, we are never free to enjoy the subtle blessings immediately before us — such as the flickering sparkles in the tree.
It is God Himself who gives us these expressions of beauty, and He has given us the capacity to enjoy them. This is for our benefit. We harm ourselves when we push ahead day after day, so pressed down by heavy and burdensome loads that we are blinded to what's around us. This is self-flagellation — and not a way to honour God's gifts of grace. Yet this is a constant temptation for many of us. It may even feel right and saintly. We may feel that we deserve God's love more because we are trying so hard. We may see ourselves as better than those who keep stopping to smell the roses or enjoy the sparkling mist.
Thankfully, God has provided us with countless such release valves — escape hatches through which we can stop and be revived in our inner being. These measures may seem too simplistic, not spiritual enough, even selfish or demeaning to our high calling. But in actuality, when we receive God's miniature gifts with thanksgiving and joy, we honour Him as our provider and creator. It is a way that we love God. It is also a way that we take care of our bodies and minds. I think of the Lutheran pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, who, during his torturous imprisonment in the Russian gulag, found refreshment by watching a spider on the prison wall.
Through nurturing our capacity to be still, to reflect on the small gifts in life, we also become fit for our calling to love God and others. As we learn how to be still, we become more able to sense what's happening with others — their joys, aspirations, and fears — without being hindered by our own racing thoughts and opinions. And then we can respond in love for who they are in that moment. Being a good listener, in itself, is an act of love.
Who would think that the great commandments — to love God, others, and ourselves — would involve such elementary "duties" as enjoying a spider or a water droplet?
May this be a prayer for each of us:
Prayer: – Lord, teach me to be still, that I might be refreshed and revived by Your blessings and grow in love towards You and others. Amen.