It’s Time to Be Still


America is changing. When the world moves at lightning speed, it’s more important than ever to be still and find God in the silence.

It’s been a busy week in America.

Change happens slowly. Except when it doesn’t. Last week was one of those weeks when everything seemed to happen at once:

  • In the wake of the Charleston shooting, legislatures appear poised to act on calls to remove the Confederate flag from state capitols and public spaces throughout the South.
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality overturned same-sex marriage bans and opened the door for same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
  • The court ruled that the federal government can legally subsidize health insurance, cementing  Obamacare as a permanent part of the American landscape.

For some, these developments are a cause for celebration; for others, not so much. But the one thing we can all agree on is that America is changing. And when change happens — even good change — staying centered can be tricky.

Be still and know …

Finding God isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be. Just ask Elijah.

In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah standing on a mountain, looking for God. A gale force wind blew against the mountain, but God wasn’t in the wind. The wind was followed by an earthquake and then a fire. But God wasn’t in those either.

Finally, a deep silence engulfed the mountain. And that’s where God was. In the silence.

When big, dramatic changes happen (in society or our personal lives), it’s tempting to look for God in the midst of either the celebration or the dirge. But too often, we confuse the spectacle of the whirlwind or the flash of the flames with God’s presence.

By learning how to be still, we make space for several critical things to occur:

1. We gain perspective.

Emotions (positive and negative) are super-sized in the midst of change. In stillness, we begin to see change in context. We gain perspective about its importance in our lives and in the lives of others.

2. We grow.

Sometimes the change that’s really needed is a change in us. But personal growth doesn’t happen in the chaos of current events — it happens when we decide to be still and engage in silent contemplation, allowing God to change our hearts and expand our understanding about other points of view.

3. We find solid ground.

Although change is good, constant change is unsustainable. Human beings need a certain amount of stability in our lives. A home base, a new normal, a solid foundation — you can call it whatever you want. But when we choose to be still with God, we discover the footing we need to take the next steps in our journey with God and each other.

Many of my friends are ecstatic about the changes that happened in America last week. Others feel like it’s the end of the world.

But no matter where you stand on same-sex marriage or Obamacare or even the Confederate flag, be still and listen to God in the silence. You might be surprised by what you hear.