Years ago, I read the four Gospels to follow along with the 8 days of Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday, and culminating in Easter Sunday, the Resurrection. It was a fun experience as I was able to read the different passages each Gospel writer used to describe the various events.
On Easter Monday, Jesus leaves Bethany, the house of his great friends: Martha, Mary and Lazarus, to go back to Jerusalem. It’s the day he walks past a fig tree that has no fruit and also the day He cleared the temple.
Focus on Jesus
I don’t want to reflect on those events even though both have significant meaning but rather to continue my short series on how to set our focus on Jesus. Last time I shared the importance of meditating on Scripture but today it’s on a discipline that is one of the hardest for we overly busy, too distracted types.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10)
We’re all very familiar with this verse. I’ve written on it many times but I’m increasingly discovering the wonder of its truth. Because it is in stillness and ONLY in stillness where we come to know God. I’m discovering this truth. We need quiet to listen to and hear God.
It’s been the practice I specifically picked up for Lent: to simply be still, quiet and wait on God. For a few minutes each day. Most days I’ve succeeded in doing it. It’s hard to do. Because our worlds are so noisy.
Jesus and the Quiet
As we know, Lent’s 40 days mirror those Jesus spent in the wilderness soon after being baptised. Besides the noises of animals, birds, and insects, He would have spent those days in silence. As he didn’t eat, I expect Jesus spent much of his time simply being quiet communing with the Father.
In the quiet, we discover how to let go and surrender our hold on everything that’s going on in our worlds. We like control, don’t we. Even of bad things. When God wants us to let go and discover the wonder of learning to depend on Him and Him alone.
As I walked this morning I talked to Jesus about His time in the wilderness. I wondered if He was ever frightened, of starving, of being attacked by animals, of being at the mercy of Satan’s minions. I sensed that in reinforcing the 30 years of learning dependence, Jesus had to let go of the worst outcomes. Yes, He had to acknowledge that they were a possibility.
It confirmed in my mind that letting go requires the willingness to acknowledge bad things can happen, but God is indeed our refuge and fortress, irrespective of our circumstances.
“The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV).
Indeed, God will. But we need to be still. I’ve found this invaluable when anxiety strikes. For much of my life, I would hold onto Jesus, but at the same time, hold onto the ‘thing’ that’s stressing me. But Jesus says, let go of the ‘thing’, whatever it is, and then I’ll fight for you. Does that make sense?
“In repentance and rest will be your salvation;
In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)
“Stillness is your strength because it shows your trust in God. In your stillness, God moves.” (Ann Voskamp)
An Exercise for the week
There are so many more good things to chat about stillness. It's one of my favourite subjects, not because I'm good at it but because I'd like to better at it. But this post is too long already.
This week, may I encourage us all to minimise our distractions and simplify our schedule (postpone things to next week or beyond if you are able). Take some time each day to simply be still and quiet with God. This isn’t about prayer. But one may flow into the other.
Just find a comfortable quiet spot and use a word, a phrase, for example, ‘Come Holy Spirit’, ‘Jesus, I’m here’) and listen. When a distracting thought comes (they will and that’s okay), simply say the word/phrase again.
You might hear nothing. That’s okay. Come again tomorrow.
Why don't we share in the comments, only if you want to, what we discovered during the week. Even if it's nothing. :) I'll keep popping back each day.
Wishing all the SUMite family a very Happy and joyous Holy Week and Easter. Lean into Jesus and be amazed.
Grace and peace.