Do you feel like you’re living life on fast-forward? Are you always busy but never getting anything done? Do you suffer from information overload, always being distracted by emails, instant messaging, social media? As a result, do you feel like you’re missing out on what’s really important in life?
The reason for this is simple. We’re all distracted. Constantly. If it isn’t our busy schedules, then it’s the constant contact with many different people and happenings going on around us, mostly through social media and mobile communications. Always living life like this can feel overwhelming.
This is a massive issue for all of us to work through because we’re all experiencing information overload, every day.
And here is the great irony of it all; we’ve never been so connected while at the same time feeling so disconnected from what is really real and essential for living a balanced life.
Recent research into the impact of social media on young people bears this out. Like all good things (and social media and the internet can be amazing), if it’s misused or overused there are serious effects.
So here is a simple message. Stop.
It’s time to take a break from all the busyness and the distraction. It’s time to breathe in, refocus and remember our Creator. God is asking us to ‘be still and know that I am God.’ Psalm 46:10.
Why? Because I believe ours is the most distracted generation in history. Never have we had so many different things and concerns bombard our everyday attention.
And really, for what purpose?
I don’t believe we were created to live like this because we’re missing out on the most important relationship of all, the one with our own creator, “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
I’ve listed here a host of reasons for why we should, stop, pause and be still. All of them have the potential to benefit our spiritual life and our relationships with others.
Be still to really know God
If our relationship with God is important to us, then we need to spend time with him. Ever heard of a successful marriage where the couple never share each other’s space or life together? Why should it be any different with God? The main reason I believe we don’t is once again, distraction.
It’s actually what the Psalmist is saying in our verse; “be still and know”
The original Hebrew is very illuminating. The command to “be still” could better be translated as “cause yourselves to let go” or “let yourselves become weak” or even to surrender.
The surrender comes first and then the wonderful relationship can become to blossom, we get to know God. If we just think for a moment about this, isn’t it astonishing? Our creator, in all his glory and transcendence, is actually inviting us into closeness with him.
To become ‘a friend of God’ (John 15:15) should surely be our most important priority and relationship. We can then begin to let go of so many of the distractions and preoccupations that we once thought were more important and regain a glimpse of a greater vision for our life. That is to live and move in Him.
This putting God first, to know him, becomes the radiance that is then reflected and outworked in our lives. Relationships change us (for better or for worse) but our relationship with God transforms us. We can then start to see the outworkings of this in all areas of our life. Here are more of them:
Be still to reconnect with yourself
We need to be still before God to reconnect with ourselves and remember who we really are. That may sound strange at first but many of us can be so preoccupied with just doing things (for often well-intentioned reasons), that we forget who we are and what we’re truly meant to be doing with our time and talents.
This can happen in our work life too. In fact, it’s pretty common. I’ve known quite a few business owners who have reached the point of exhaustion because they’ve completely lost their sense of purpose and why they got into doing what they did, to begin with. The passion and calling have somehow been lost in all the busyness and distraction.
Being still and knowing God will help to re-energize, refocus, inspire and if necessary re-direct your own sense of personal mission in life.
Be still to find clarity
Following on from re-connecting, being too busy also affects your clarity. We need to be still to get our priorities right. There’s another benefit too, it gives your brain a chance to catch-up and reorganise things. This happens during our sleeping hours (which are massively important in themselves) but there are benefits of being still during our waking hours too.
Ever had a flash of inspiration or insight that just made so much sense you wondered why you hadn’t thought of it already? I’ll bet you 9 times out of 10 you received this while taking a pause or being in a relaxed state.
Do you know the old story of the Greek mathematician, Archimedes? He had his flash of inspiration in the bath, and that wasn’t a coincidence. He was in a quiet mental space. Being still and calm in mind could unlock your own eureka moment.
But here’s the other important thing, we’re allowing God to provide the clarity. That’s quite a different thing to finding it for ourselves. Being still with God will enable you to put aside particular plans, obsessions even passions to allow him to provide a special insight into your life if it’s his will for this time. We won’t know for sure until we enter into the dialogue through prayer.
Be still and know God, to bring yourself clarity.
Be still to pray
To pray continually (1 Thes 5:17) is a great challenge but is there something special about praying in stillness and silence? I think there is. We need only recall the delightful story of Elijah in his cave expecting to hear God in a mighty wind or his power in an earthquake or fire. But no instead it was the “still small voice” of God, that shook him to his core. (1 Kings 19: 11-14).
There are many ways to pray of course, but praying and hearing God in stillness is counter-intuitive to how we might expect an all powerful God to communicate. We see from this surprising passage that quiet is a most powerful way to talk with God.
Another is to also pray in quiet meditation on God’s word or his works.
“On the glorious splendour of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate” Psalm 145:5.
This quiet, still meditation on God, centering our thoughts and worship on Him is a way of surrender and letting go of much the preoccupies our everyday focus.
We need to be still to experience a different way to pray and hear God.
Be still to restore the soul
Our thought life can help or hinder us depending on how we feel about ourselves or how we respond to the world around us. Every one of us can have a tendency to ruminate. This means to overly focus on the cause or the consequence of a problem or feeling that we’re experiencing. Being able to be still and to re-centre on God helps us to put aside our ruminating and gain more perspective.
This aspect of our thought life can touch on our mental health. If what you’re experiencing is hindering your everyday quality of life, speaking to a trained professional will help you to work through any deeper cause of anxiety.
This important point aside, I believe an essential part of restoring our spirit, soul, and body and gaining greater calm over our emotional life, is through praying and centering on God. It’s been proven to offset the negative aspects of some types of stress and help with self-control.
“He makes my lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23: 2-3.
Developing the ‘Be Still’ habit
We know we need to do it. We know we need to slow down and be still and we know we need to pray more often. So instead of beating ourselves up about how bad we are at it, why don’t we just find somewhere quiet, comfortable (but not too sleepy) and still our hearts before Him, who knows us intimately and longs to spend time with his creation?
Now is the time more than ever to switch off all our distractions, and to be still and know that God is God, and rest in his presence. And once we’re there, we may even be changed in ways we never knew we could be.
Jeremy- Not Only Sundays – Bible Wisdom for Every Day.
© Not Only Sundays, May 2017.
Scripture quoted from the NIV translation.
Images sourced on www.pixabay.com image under a creative commons licence CC.