November 28, 2011

Be Still. Be Still? Be Still.

A couple of summers ago, my cousin and I decided that we would begin a new hobby together – Sailing. My Dad was an avid sailor and before he died he left his small butterfly sailboat to me. So my cousin and I decided that we would rig it and take it out on the lake behind our house. Having very little experience with sailboats we did the only thing we could think of in order to learn how to rig and sail it….we googled directions. After first learning the new vocabulary we were able to decode the directions and rig the boat. The boat was rigged and sitting on the grass in the back yard and we were already picturing ourselves as master yachts women. We were already big talkers. My cousin said, “We are going to OWN the wind today.” I responded with a positive, “Yeah we are!” - - - - - - So there we were, master’s of the wind in our minds, the greatest of all theoretical sailors. Then we put the boat in the water, and theory went out the window as we were faced with the reality of actually sailing. Now, we could feel the wind on our faces, we knew it was there, yet we fussed with the lines, we adjusted and readjusted the sail, we changed the direction of the rudder, all the while thinking, “Why aren’t we going anywhere?” So, we paused to regroup and catch our breath, all the fussing was actually exhausting. It was a quiet pause. There were no sounds other than birds and the sloshing of the water against the side of the sailboat. All was still. And then, in a moment of clarity I said, “Wait for it…..Wait for it.” Then with a “whomp” the sail filled with wind and we were moving.
We giggled as we started moving. We realized the flaw in our earlier thinking. We can’t OWN the wind. We can’t control the wind. It is doing its own thing and we had to be patient for it, we had to wait for it. I thought about that old Proverb that we all probably heard many times, yet if you are like me, roll your eyes at, “Patience is a virtue.” We hear it in other ways. Even the ketchup commercials tell us that, “All good things come to those who wait.”

My cousin and I could have fussed and adjusted that boat all night long, when all we really needed to do was, Just be still for a minute and “Wait for it.” After our sails were filled, we could adjust the sail and steer the boat, and together with the wind move the boat.
What is it about patience that is so hard? When are the times in our life when we have to be patient? And WHY do I cringe when someone tellsme to be patient? I have been thinking about these questions recently, and I think that patience is easy to dislike because the moments when we are to be patient are the moments in life that we have no control. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t have control I can feel anxious, I can feel fear, I can feel discouragement and sometimes I can feel failure. After all being patient sometimes means that there is nothing for us to be doing other than be still, wait. Well we are a culture of doers not waiters! If we are not doing something then we are lazy…..or are we? Psalm 46:10 says,“Be still, and know that I am God.” What does that mean? Be still? Put my arms down to my side? Relax? Wait? Be vulnerable? “Be still and know that I am God?”

Well, I think for different people it will mean different things. For me, I think that it does NOT mean be lazy, give up, or throw in the towel. I think that Psalm 46:10 encourages us to stop for a minute, breath, take a time out, stand still, find some spiritual serenity amidst the busyness of life and reflect on who God is and what God can do in the face of what we are unable to do. We can set the sail, but God provides the wind. Stand still - not because of self made confidence, not because we are the most composed in the face of disaster, not because “we’ve seen it all.” Rather, be still because of what you know about God. First, maybe you need to ask yourself what you know about God? For me God is the all powerful Creator of the Universe, the All- Present Redeemer, walking with me on the road of life. The road that includes both the hills and the valleys, The All-Knowing Friend that smiles with me in my joys, laughs with me in the funny, and cries with me in the pain. “Be still and know that I am God.”

I pray that knowing helps to find calm when experiencing a sense of chaos, stability when the world feels like it is crumbling, presence when the feeling of being alone is all encompassing, and when the wind is needed to move your boat.


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