Be Still

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
~Psalm 46

I don’t know about you, but I often have a very hard time slowing down. World news, an over-dependence on my distracting cell phone, and bouncing between to-dos can leave me feeling like I’m in constant motion. In Psalm 46, the Lord tells us to be still, but He doesn’t pretend that achieving stillness is easy. The psalm paints pictures of roaring waters, shaking mountains, and raging nations—images that call current events to mind a little too easily. And yet, amid all of these troubles, the Lord calls us to be still. And in that stillness, He says, we have the blessed opportunity to know Him.

It sounds like achieving this stillness is pretty important for our spiritual growth. But how on earth do we make it happen? A few ideas spring to mind. Meditation might help us be still. The term “meditation” can mean lots of things, but I see it as an intentional pause in which we slow ourselves down and shut out all the noise that usually keeps our minds frantically on the move. Maybe stillness can be a mindful choice not to multitask in situations where we normally would. For example, we might opt to fold laundry in silence instead of watching TV—giving our thoughts a chance to just run their course, and maybe finding some peace in the eye of the storm. Maybe being still is as simple as praying or making time to read the Word. 

As I was writing this, I chose to pause for just a moment and put my head down on the desk. I took a few breaths and checked in with my senses. I noticed the cool wood against my forehead and felt grateful for its solid strength. I remembered that this desk was a wedding gift from a woman who is now in the other world. I also recalled that it once served as our dining room table, when our home and family were much smaller. I smiled at the memories. In that simple pause, I felt grounded and at peace. It’s funny how being present with myself called to mind something sweet from my past. That memory is what gave me both a sense of gratitude and peace. Even if it was just for a moment, I felt deeply in touch with one of my countless blessings and thereby felt closer to the Lord. 

The simple act of noticing and appreciating my desk helped me tap into a kind of stillness. And, while wafting down memory lane, it occurred to me that, while the world of photography has largely gone digital, we sometimes call photographs “stills.” One reason why pictures are so powerful is because they capture a single moment. They give us an opportunity—if we slow down enough—to reflect on what the subjects in a photo were thinking and feeling at the time the photo was taken. Maybe being still is allowing ourselves to pause in the business of our present and really check in with where we are right now. And realizing that the Lord is here. Now. No matter how busy we are. Maybe being present with ourselves is the best way to realize how very present He is with us. 

Being still is something we can control. We can choose to pause. In that pause, the Lord can give us the gift of peace. Being at peace means being content with exactly where, what, and how you are at any given moment, because we trust that the Lord is in control. It can feel daunting and even impossible at times to find peace. But I think the Lord is telling us that there are snatches of peace scattered throughout our most hectic days. A smile from a stranger. A flutter of my one-year-old’s eyelashes against my cheek. My oldest daughter reading a book to her younger brothers. When I allow myself to notice these precious micro-moments, I feel the stillness of peace and the trust in the Lord that it brings. 

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s worth noting that that stillness is grounded in gratitude—in appreciating the blessings that pepper our lives even when it feels as though so much is falling apart or out of our control. Those blessings are reminders that the Lord is with us. Psalm 46 says as much—twice even. “The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.” We just have to slow down long enough to notice. 

About Justine Buss

Justine Buss and her family are currently based in Pittsburgh. She was born and raised in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania and studied theatre and English at Muhlenberg College. She spent her professional career working with young people in theatre and is now a full time stay at home mom and pastor’s wife. She stays in touch with her theatre roots by directing Christmas and New Church Day pageants, helping with school plays, and taking an improv class. She also enjoys singing, creative writing (including the occasional murder mystery party game), bargain hunting, and going on adventures with her family. She is grateful for the expressive outlet that New Christian Woman provides. It's so good to take the time to reflect on and write about the things that are on our minds and hearts.

6 thoughts on “Be Still

  1. Hi Justine. This is another stellar article by you! For one thing, I absolutely love the quote you started with. It’s also a very good reminder. I like the combination of the ideas of gratitude and stillness. I love my routine of sitting on the floor, or in a chair and breathing for a few minutes before I do anything else in the morning. I also note that for me, being deep into creating a painting is a kind of stillness.

    1. Thank you! It was really useful for me to notice the connection between stillness and gratitude and how that combination leads to peace. I love your morning routine! What a positive way to start the day.

  2. Dear Justine,
    One of my favorite Scriptures is “Be still and know that I am God.” I had tried various kinds of meditation but just couldn’t get my mind to slow down. Then a friend told me about breath prayer and it made all the difference. You choose any Scripture or prayer that speaks to you and say part as you breath in and part as you breath out, over and over. The one I use is “Be still and know” (breathe in) ” that I am God.” (breathe out.

    I really like your thought that photos were often called “stills” and caught just a moment in someone’s life that you could consider and wonder what they were thinking, feeling, etc. at that point. I am going to do that now when I look through my photo albums. Thank you for that gift.

    1. Thank you so much for introducing me to breath prayer, Kathy. I will absolutely try that. “Be still and know that I am God” is one of my favorite lines of scripture too.

  3. Ahhh, yes. Thanks for this reminder, Justine! I’m definitely a multi-tasker, myself (maybe most moms – most women? – are?), so I’m definitely hearing you when you suggest uni-tasking, for a change. ..Speaking of “shutting out all the noise that usually keeps our minds frantically on the move”, I’ve taken to daily practicing a kind of meditation that entails observing the noise — but the literal, audible noise: endeavouring to quiet my mind and simply observe, without judgment, without thought, without any kind of analysis, the sensations that my body perceives. I love the notion; it practice, I’m not sure that I make it more than a breath or two before I notice myself thinking (hello, active mind!), but I love the idea of just sitting, perfectly still in mind & body (well, except for my heart & lungs; I prefer those to stay engaged & active! -but certainly not racing). It’s an interesting exercise, to be sure.

    But yeah….. thanks for the nudge to be still, and the implications it can have. “Maybe being present with ourselves is the best way to realize how very present He is with us.” Yes! Beautiful. Thank you. I appreciate this moment to pause, reflect & be still.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It is SO hard for me to be still so much of the time. It’s good to remember that even tiny little pauses are a step in the right direction.

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