Thursday, April 30, 2015

Be still...and know...

"In a city of so much noise I need to find my quiet." 

I journaled the beginning of this poem about three months after moving to Hanoi, Vietnam. In this bustling city finding a pocket of serenity is a rare and beautiful thing. I wondered throughout my entry how I, a quiet country girl at heart, could adjust to living in a city where every moment seemed saturated with people and noisy bustle.

Years ago I recall hearing a parable-like almost Screwtape Letters-esque story about the Devil calling his legions together and strategizing how best to undermine the advancement of God's kingdom. After entertaining many suggestions from the legions of demons, the Devil finally says THE answer is to keep humans busy. Convince people that there are many very important tasks needing their attention. This way humans will have so many things distracting and occupying them the result will be that with their attentions divided, humans would be rendered unable to completely focus on the still small voice of God. The acronym then stands that humans being BUSY is (Being Under Satan's Yoke). We humans were created to work diligently and serve as stewards. Additionally we humans were created in God's image to seek and embrace a sabbath or rest. The Creator modeled this balance of diligent work and spiritual rest in Genesis chapters 1-2. Chapter one outlines a flourish of creative genius and chapter two shows us how the Creator punctuated His work. "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." (Genesis 2:1-3) 
    This past weekend I took a rest from my last nine months of diligent work. My family and I took our first ever spring break holiday together to Da Nang and then Hoi An. We took a boat out to Cham Island. Serenity and quiet abounded. We leisurely snorkeled, swam about, and napped on the beach after lunch. Our surroundings made it much easier for me to BE still and to be quiet inside my mind. 

In Psalm 46:10a God gives the imperatives, "Be still and know that I am God." First, "Be still." Readers generally take this to mean silence or quiet. If one will quiet the mind and surroundings, one is half way there. In the Hebrew rapah or rapa means, "let down, drop faint, slacken, to cease." Some scholars say the term carries the connotation of a soldier battling on and then just dropping the weapons, ceasing to engage in the war. This metaphor intrigues me. Often I feel like I am fighting and engaging on many fronts and losing battles left and right. However then the second imperative enters AND, "Know that I am God." See it is not until I stop flailing about by my own volition and let God be who He is in my life, that I have any hope of winning the battle or the war. Like my peaceful holiday, few and far between are the times I am still and aware. Like Hanoi, my life will not quiet anytime soon. I must be more intentional about seeking out opportunities to disengage and BE STILL, otherwise how will I KNOW? 


  1. "I must be more intentional about seeking out opportunities to disengage and BE STILL, otherwise how will I KNOW?" Opportunities to disengage, but yet we're surrounded by busyness. I like the acronym for Busy since I spend way too much time being frazzled. Your words give me much to think about.

  2. I haven't read The Screwtape Letters, but my church offered a class on it. I got chills when you explained that after the Devil and his legions discuss how best to further their kingdom, "the Devil finally says THE answer is to keep humans busy." Wow. That is powerful and scary. This is a brilliant post, Teresa. I'm going to share it! Beautiful photos, too!