Life today seems crammed full of “stuff” – the activity, noise, information, to-do lists, social media and 24-7 entertainment that we are bombarded with. I read an interview in the paper this weekend with a 20-something woman who spends the first two hours of every day on Twitter. Two hours! That’s before she’s even out of her pyjamas.
And for most people I know busyness is the norm. I’m fairly good at time management and juggling all the demands on my time, but sometimes it can all seem a bit overwhelming. How can I give my marriage, my three children, and my friends the time they need while at the same time staying on top of work and ministry? How do I make space for God in the midst of it all? How can I hear His voice and encounter His presence, not just in those precious times of retreat, but in the midst of normal, everyday life?
With information overload, and very busy lives, I believe that more than ever we need to be engaging with the biblical concept of stillness.
God is teaching me that however full or empty my schedule, what He is interested in is my inner world. And the question that He is asking me at the moment, as the words of Psalm 46:10 resound repeatedly in my heart and mind, is:
“Are you being still enough to know Me?”
Am I being still to the extent that the revelation of God fills my field of view and resets my priorities? Am I being still enough that the knowledge of God pervades my thoughts and my interaction with the world around me?
This is the stillness that David knew and wrote about in Psalm 131:
“I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
These ancient words are an invitation to engage with the discipline of internal stillness so that we can connect with God’s heart and hear His voice. They are an invitation to turn away from all the “stuff” that is clamouring for our attention and re-connect with His sweet presence.
“Be still and know that I am God”
I’m taking these words with me everywhere at the moment. I’m exploring and testing them, and I’m seeking to use them as a lens through which to view everything going on around me. I’m practicing stillness while emptying the dishwasher, practising stillness at the supermarket checkout, practicing stillness in a day full of meetings and Skype calls. I’m allowing holy stillness to invade and interrupt my day, so that rather than constantly thinking about the next thing on my agenda, I’m slowing down enough to meet God in the moment.
As I do this (and some days are better than others) I’m finding that I have a greater capacity to see how close the Kingdom is – to see the world through the eyes of my Father. As a follower of Jesus I want to walk through my busy day with one foot firmly planted in the spiritual dimension of the Kingdom of God, while at the same time engaging with the physical world around me. And He’s teaching me that the key to this is learning to be still. To keep a finger close to the pause button and to listen to the Voice that can be heard above the earthquake and fire.
To simply be still.
Cath Livesey is a wife and mother of three girls. She also oversees prophetic ministry at St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield, UK.