Be Still and Know that I am God – The Meaning of Be Still Will Surprise You
The words – Be Still – can mean not moving, and being quiet. From a biblical perspective, I was shocked and actually had to laugh when I found out the literal meaning.
The sermon at church one morning focused on the passage from Mark, Chapter 4, where Jesus uses the words, “Peace, be still!” (The exclamation point is there for a reason.)
The story was also told in Matthew and Luke which portrayed an extremely busy day where Jesus was healing people, casting out demons and speaking. While the Scripture doesn’t say this, the picture is painted that Jesus was exhausted and overwhelmed. He requested a boat to escape the crowds that were coming to him.
On the journey, a huge storm rolled in. The disciples were afraid for their lives. They looked for Jesus to help them and found him fast asleep from exhaustion. They were terrified because of the storm and woke Jesus up. According to Mark’s account, Jesus was not happy. In his frustration he yelled, “Peace, Be Still!” The storm and the huge waves stopped immediately. The literal translation of, Be Still, taken from the Greek, is – Shut Up!
The bible verse, Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God – is also translated to mean – Shut up and know that I am God. Another pastor I met told me about that translation and used the analogy of the proverbial, family road trip. You know the one, with the kids in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” The answer, of course, is be still or shut up!
How often do we ask God for everything, but we don’t stop to listen or to be still? The act of being still and getting quiet becomes more of a challenge in our hectic world. The world asks us to be busy. God asks us to be still so that we can receive peace and guidance.
We must learn to tell our fearful and anxious thoughts to shut up, just as Jesus calmed the sea. Jesus immediately asked the question to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?”
Quieting the mind, shutting up the mind requires practice. One powerful way to shut up thoughts that don’t serve us is by practicing meditation.
For whatever reason, meditation has not been a mainstay of traditional Christian, religious organizations. Prayer and Bible reading are encouraged as well as the occasional mention of contemplative prayer, but not so much meditation. Jesus, John the Baptist and others went off to meditate and to take themselves away from the hectic world.
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Meditation helps to renew the mind.
When talking about meditation, you will almost always hear it combined with an action verb – practicing meditation, meditation exercise. That’s because it is like exercise and that it takes practice! We have upwards of 50,000 thoughts per day. Many thoughts are recurring ones that cause additional stress. You know the ones, “I’m stupid, I can’t do it, I’ll never succeed, it’s too hard, it will never happen, I’m not good enough, I’m too old, too young.” In addition to those thoughts, we are exposed to as many as 5,000 advertising messages a day. Because of this, our mind is cluttered. Being still takes practice and persistence. We have to literally tell our mind to, “Shut up.”
Many people are intimidated by silence. Silence can cause you to address issues that you might be running from. It’s easy to fill each day with busyness and then block out concerns through hours of mind-numbing television viewing, Internet surfing or reading magazines. None of these activities are bad. However, if they are used to fill a void that is not being filled, over time, the toll will manifest itself in the form of lost relationships, lost opportunities and lost dreams never being fulfilled.
Meditation has changed my life. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but it’s true. You can listen to the story and specifically what changed. If you have never practiced meditation, I’ve created a very simple guided meditation CD taken from Psalms 46:10 – “Be Still and Know that I am God.” I encourage you to practice being still and learning to listen to God and the Spirit within you.
The next time you have fearful and anxious thoughts, do as Jesus did. Silence those thoughts by saying, “Peace, be still.”
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