by Dave Firth - We’ve probably all seen those wooden plaques on a wall in a home, maybe on a mantelpiece or even one of those little desktop calendars that says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
They look lovely, but a study of the original text in Psalm 46 from this well-known verse shows that in the Hebrew this verse is actually slightly better translated as “cease striving and know that I am God.”
Stillness isn’t about sitting in a chair doing nothing, putting your feet up and doing what we call “resting.” It’s the lack of striving and this verse particularly reminds us of the importance to ‘cease’ or stop our striving.
In the gospels, Jesus is recorded getting up early to go up a mountain to pray. He wasn’t ‘peopled out’. He hadn’t had enough of the disciples. He just knew the importance of quiet, stillness, privacy and time with the Father.
Our society has really misunderstood God’s calling on our lives. The church doesn’t always teach this particularly well either. We are to turn from busyness, work, noise and simply find time to be with Him. Jesus knew the importance of that. Do you? Do we?
Busyness itself can be an enemy, even in ministry. We can work hard, teach, plan, write, prepare and lead. For me personally, my quiet times can sometimes be short and squeezed in around other things, ministry things, good things, valuable things. It’s funny how we prioritise things that are important to us. The harsh reality for me one day was realising that my quiet time wasn’t as important as it should be. I was prioritising other things. We’ve all got the time to do the things we want to do. When you realise you’re not doing something, it’s usually because it isn’t quite as important to you as you think it should be or wish it was.
Time away at the beach or a beach house, up a mountain, a walk in the forest or by a lake, those are all good things and they can be valuable but it’s crucial that we make time, prioritise time in the Word, reading our Bibles, sitting quietly and privately so we can read, study, meditate, ponder even, write notes and discover the wonderful truth revealed to us through His Word. It’s like turning on the light in a dark room or turning off the noise so you can hear a familiar voice.
In John 10 Jesus reminds us that the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. When He calls us, teaches us, talks to us, of course we know it’s good to listen to Him but sometimes we are so distracted by other things that we simply don’t hear His voice.
When I worked at a Bible School, one of the things students would often ask is “How do I know God’s will for my life?” And I’d often reply, “Have you read His book of instructions?” Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The renewing of our minds comes from an input of good stuff and the only true, good stuff, is God’s Word. Making time to really wash ourselves in the Word is so important. In Mark 1:35, when it says Jesus got up, ‘very early in the morning…’, we don’t know exactly what time of year it was but we know it was dark and He went away from the disciples, up a mountain. It seems He would often do that, because it was so important. Well, if we are going to the airport, or for an interview, or to a wedding, those things are important so we prioritise time so we can navigate traffic and make sure we aren’t delayed.
The harsh reality is that if we don’t take time in the Word, then we are weaker, hungrier, and poorer for it. Jesus knew just how important it was, even for Him. I think we sometimes forget that He was fully human. We just concentrate on the fact that He was also God. But these accounts we have of Him taking this quiet time, to have time with God, to be with His Father is a wonderful example and a great reminder of our need to prioritise time with Him.
I want to encourage you, most of us have access to God’s Word not just in a book but we have tools, resources, apps, websites where we can really dig into the riches of His Word not only in English but also in the original languages. There’s so many more things we have these days than we had even 20, 50 or 100 years ago. I want to ask you to pray and ask the Lord to show you where there is room for improvement, show you ways and times that you can use and take to dig into His Word, to be washed in it and as Jesus did, to prioritise time with our loving Heavenly Father.
The enemy works hard to distract us from all the things that are good for us and I think most Christians would acknowledge that spending quiet time alone with the Father, in the Word is something that they struggle with.
Let’s encourage one another, the believers in your family, in your life and community to take time and make time to spend in His Word, quiet time in His Word.
You won’t regret it!
Dave Firth is CEO of Authentic Christian Trust and editor of Authentic Men’s Magazine.