Be still!

(On Mondays I plan to write posts that come from my reflections on my word/topic of focus for this year—which is stillness, rest, sabbath.)

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a

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I have often described myself as an ESFP with ADD. My friends may tell you I’m somewhat outgoing, seemingly scattered, and  often unfocused. Perception is pretty close to reality.

I don’t like the description of the Proverbs 31 woman or Peter’s instruction: You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God (1 Peter 3:4, NLT).

Gentle and quiet are two words few people associate with me.

In fact, if for some reason I am quiet, people ask me what’s wrong. When I’m in public, I don’t do quiet well.

As I have aged, however, I have found I enjoy being alone…and quiet. I can turn off the TV, sometimes even goe sans music—and just be still.

But my stillness, my quiet reveree, lacked something. Until recently when I began asking God to reveal my direction for 2018.

Several years abo, I started writing a Bible study and one of the chapters was on the command to keep sabbath. I found myself being drawn back again and again to  the books I had gathered on the topic and stuck on a corner of a bookshelf in my office.

Holding one of the books, I felt a strong resonning in my spirit. A loud “YES!” Resonated within me from head to toe.

Okay, God. I got it, but I don’t get it.

And the whisper came back, “You will.”

Then one of the devotions in the first week of the year reflected on how Elijah didn’t hear God in the storm or earthquake—but in the quiet whisper. And the whisper was a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Sitting in my quiet family room, holding the small book, I sensed my eyes filling with tears…and I heard God whisper, “Tina, what are you doing here?”

I didn’t have an answer. Still don’t. But you better believe I’ve been thinking about it. Even created the meme at the top of this blog.

The question is one of those kinds that when you say it you can put emphasis on a different word and change the meaning: What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here?

After determining the direction, I felt compelled to be accountable. In the past I’ve lost interest and attention to my word/focus before I reached February. I might remember it later in the year—and have a few moments of guilt. I decided to not let that happen this year.

So every Monday I’m going to reflect on this with you, or at least with myself. I don’t know where it will go. Thankfully, I don’t have to…I’m just going to be obedient, and still, and listen for the whisper.

What are you doing here?

Advent 19: Silent Night

I was surfing Christmas music on youtube when I came across this song by Amy Grant:

I’d never heard it before, so I sat and listened. And right at the end of the video a scene popped up that moved me and made me cry.

That last scene was in an app I downloaded for my phone and NookHD+. I selected it for my wallpaper on both. There was something very homey and comforting about it. It was like an invitation to step back and keep Christmas without all the hustle and bustle.

Seeing it there in this song was like a hug from God. And in my spirit I could hear him saying, “Whoa, little one. Slow down. You are racing so. Look at you all in a frenzy.”

I sat quietly and pondered this whole “resting” thing. Why is it so hard for people? So I decided to ask google. I found one article by a trainer described how he taught “chargers” to rest effectively. (Here’s the addy: http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/learning-to-rest-teaching-hard-chargers-to-slow-down-and-relax .)

What he was saying reminded me of when I worked at Curves (The Workout Place for Women). When we coached people through the program we put strong emphasis on the cool down and stretching portion of the workout. Invariably at least half the women would skip this portion, citing a need to be somewhere else and promising to do it next time.

We just don’t slow down well.

Throughout the Psalms there’s a little word that we often gloss right over. It occurs 71 times there and three times in Habakkuk 3. The word is Selah. While there is some confusion over its exact meaning, it is most often described as a musical term which we would closely associate with a rest, bringing an oppotunity to pause, to mediate on what was just read or sung.

If our bodies need to physically pause to restore, should it come as any surprise that our spirits need that also?

So God’s gift came in the dark of night. In the quiet of night. Third shift. Quiet. Still. Selah.

Yeah, I think we could all use a Slient Night.

Advent 5: Stop Talking

On a recent flight to Arizona to visit my mom, I sat behind two twenty something men. For the entire two hour flight they spent the time talking. Well, not just talking. They were talking loudly, but it wasn’t just the volume that was annoying. No. Their conversation consisted of a continuous one-up-man-ship. I finally put my headphones on so I wouldn’t have to listen.

Have you been around people who just talk to talk? They say very little that seems important, but they have such a need to say it.

One of the parts of the Christmas story that has always intrigued me involves Zechariah and the Angel. The Angel comes with some really good news and instead of accepting it, Zechariah choses to question the Angel: How? And for that he is silenced until after the baby is born.

There obviously is a time to speak and a time to listen. Did you know the word “listen” occurs 506 times in the Bible (according to biblegateway.com and the NIV)? Jesus made several of those references: Let the one who has ears hear.

Last time I checked, that’s just about everybody.

We have helped raise our grandson. I find myself often telling him to stop talking. His constant jibber or rebuttle during correction is not good. Often if he would just stop talking he would avoid trouble. The only times he has moved down on the behavior scale at school have been because he was talking when he shouldn’t.

Picture with me what it would be like if we did less talking this Advent. What would it be like if we listened more? Listened to each other…to God.

We might actually understand why God through the Psalmist instructed us to: Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

How ’bout you go first. I’m all ears.

Wondering and Wandering to Christmas: Shhhhhh…

I will probably never be accused of being quiet. It was one of the things that really bothered my dad. He was always telling me to turn down my volume. He made a point to remind me to be quieter whenever I went out or to someone’s home. I laugh loud. I talk loud. I am just loud. So it was really hard for me to grasp what Paul was saying to the Thessalonians: 11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life (4:11, NLT). In terms of Myers-Briggs, I’m an ESFP. I have ADD. So I’m an extrovert, who thinks out loud, and acts impulsively. How am I supposed to live a quiet life?

Just as shalom, peace, is not merely the absence of conflict, quiet is more than just the absence of noise. In a small but insightful book, “Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart”, Dr. Wayne Oates points out that the noise of daily life can keep one from listening to, and attending to, the whispers which are truly important. Ken Gire picks up on the same theme in his book on the reflective life: “The reflective life is a life that is attentive, receptive, and responsive to what God is doing in us and around us (p. 11, The Reflective Life).”

Keeping those thoughts in mind, I can begin to believe that a quiet life is achievable for even me. It also reminds me of one of my favorite parts of the Christmas story. Having just delivered the baby Jesus, laying in a stable surrounded by shepherds, being serenaded by angels, Mary held it all as treasure and pondered them in her heart. Mary demonstrated the reflective and quiet life. Will we be attentive and reflective or busy and noisy? The quiet life awaits.