"Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10).
You don't have to stop moving to be still.
Dancers learn that what might look like perfect stillness doesn't mean movement has ceased. The very reason that a ballerina can balance on her toe with her leg lifted and remain in that position is because she is constantly lifting and pressing and breathing, from the inside out.
I'm finding that the same thing applies to my stillness before God. No matter how structured and well-planned my schedule is, my schedule isn't the thing that will bring me true stillness and fill me with peace. When I think that the presence of time and space margin is what will make me feel secure and at rest, I end up anxious, resentful, and overwhelmed when the surprises of life get in the way. And then I stop lifting and pressing and breathing all together.
"I didn't get the time I needed to feel peace!" I think, despairing. Or maybe, it’s, “They interrupted my quiet time!” or, “I never get a break!” or, “If I could just have more time to myself, I’d be able to do the rest of this better…”
But the peace of God doesn't depend on a perfectly-laid-out schedule. Rest in my soul doesn't depend on our circumstances.
Do you struggle to find stillness and to walk in peace when your "plans for rest" get interrupted, the way I do?
Intentionally making room for rest and understanding that rest is incredibly productive—these are so needed. Jesus modeled them throughout His life.
Jesus taught us how to carve out rest in the chaos of life, but He also taught us how to maintain peace while carrying a cross.
Can we rest with a cross on our shoulders, too?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30).
His yoke isn’t something that just gets given to us and we’re on our own to “carry” it. It’s something we get to share with Him. We wear it. The way two oxen are harnessed together under the same yoke when they’re pulling a cart. The yoke keeps us next to Him. Moving with Him. So we can go where He goes and stay where He stays.
And with Jesus, there is rest for our souls.
The Bible’s word for rest is the Greek: anapausis. It means “cessation, refreshment, rest.” But Jesus isn’t telling us we have to stop everything to experience His rest. I love this:
“Christ’s ‘rest’ is not a ‘rest’ from work, but in work, ‘not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections—of will, heart, imagination, conscience—because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development,’” (W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, p. 529).
So, back to that dance analogy, our rest comes in lifting our eyes toward Christ. Pressing into His heart. Breathing in His Word and His promises and His grace and His strength.
And, because we get to be “yoked” together with Him, we can do that no matter where we are and what position we’re in.
Stillness is outside of our schedules and our plans and our circumstances.
Stillness is in trusting God to be God through whatever is going on. It’s in remembering that He’s near. It’s in obeying Him even when we don’t feel like it. It’s in casting our cares on Him and strategically placing the truth on our walls and holding it in our hands throughout the rhythm of our constantly moving lives. It’s in choosing to love and listening for His voice and thanking Him in everything.
“Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. THE LORD IS NEAR. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. AND the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, WILL guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:4-7, emphasis mine).
True rest, true peace, comes from knowing God and following God--settled and secure in Him--no matter what is going on in our lives.
Stillness can be found in the quiet. But it can also be found in the chaos. Because the very Spirit of stillness—of rest and of peace—is with us in both places. And He promises not to leave us.
I don’t want to forget that when I’m feeling like I can’t get life to stop long enough for me to catch a breath. I want Him to be the air in my lungs and the very rhythm of my walking. I want to remember the yoke I’m carrying, and the One who’s with me underneath it. Are you with me there, too?
Keep lifting. Keep pressing. Keep breathing.
You don't have to stop moving to be still.
A few resources that can help you to strategically place the Truth in the rhythm of your life so that you can grab ahold of this peace and walk in it...