Have you ever wondered why God doesn't speak directly to us the way He used to speak to people in the Old Testament? Jon and I have talked about this many times. And while we don't have specific answers, I've actually wondered if He speaks to us much more directly than we're aware of.
A few weeks back, I was reading in Exodus, and a verse I've read a dozen times or more jumped off the page at me: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (NIV, emphasis added).
About that same time, I heard Hillary Scott's song "Still" which is based on the same verse
Just a few days later, my friend Julie from Tokyo Blossom Boutique posted about her "be still" cup cozies.
Shortly after that, my friend Kendra Fletcher, author of "Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace," posted Exodus 14:14 on her FB page.
And there were other similar instances where I kept seeing and hearing "be still."
It suddenly hit me: the Lord was speaking to me loud and clear. He wanted me simply to be still.
The trouble was that I didn't know how to do that!
As I've prayed about ways to be still, three things have made all the difference.
Pray to quiet your spirit.
Whenever I hear "be still," the first thing that comes to mind is slowing down my schedule and to-do list. While I do think that can play a big part of learning to be still, I believe the bigger issue is to quiet your spirit. What good is it to quiet our activities if our minds are still hyperactive and agitated?
So, in the mornings, I've been trying to pray and ask the Lord to calm my heart, to help me develop a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). I'm certainly no expert in this. In fact, I have to pray this throughout my day because my spirit is easily irritated. But when I begin my day with this kind of prayer, it often leads to a calmer day overall.
Prioritize daily time with the Lord.
Although I've been in the habit of daily Bible reading for years, I can't always do it first thing in the morning. That's just life for me right now. But I do try to prioritize it, spending my first waking moments with the Lord whenever possible and planning for it later in the day when I can't.
It's not easy to prioritize Bible time. There are so many demands of the day: husbands who need help to get out the door in the morning; children who need to be fed; housework that calls our names. It can even seem like daily Bible study is a nicety while feeding our families is a necessity. But we need to realize that our personal, daily time with Christ is just as necessary as feeding the kids.
Unburden your schedule when possible.
I've deliberately tried to keep a light schedule. My introverted nature all but demands that I keep a very simple routine. When my calendar becomes overly full, I get easily upset, and my spirit is anything but still! So, I've learned, as much as possible, not to take on too many appointments in any given week.
Even so, I routinely evaluate my schedule to make sure that the things I've included are the things that really should be there. Sometimes I'll find I need to let go of an activity because it isn't the best thing for me or my family right then. It's not always easy to let go of something, especially if it's something that I enjoy. But I need to be sensitive to the Lord's leading.
I'm not at all saying that we must give up every fun activity we've ever had planned. But if we're feeling frazzled and are struggling to quiet our spirits or to find time to spend in Bible study and prayer, we need to take that next step of evaluating our schedules to see where we can free up some time and mental energy.
I don't know why the Lord wanted me to be still, and I'm still working on developing the habit of quieting my soul before Him. But by praying for stillness, prioritizing my time with Him, and lightening my schedule, I'm making progress.
Your turn: How about you? Is the Lord speaking to you about being still? If so, what are you doing to calm your soul and schedule?