I have been having trouble sleeping past 3:30 AM lately. Changing the clocks backwards hasn't helped in the least. There isn't much to do that early. The family really doesn't appreciate it when I run the sewing machine, wash dishes, start the washing machine, or clean the bathrooms any time before 6AM. So to pass the time I have been reading the Psalms.
Psalm 46 is one I have kept coming back to. It is so full of words of comfort when things around me are full of strife, anxiety, and concern. Particularly verse 10: "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."
"Be still, and know that I am God..."
Those that know me, know I do not keep still for long. I always have a project, a mission, a plan. I keep myself busy. Even those times when I am playing a game on the computer, my mind is busy mulling things over. Planning, thinking, scripting...
After reading Psalm 46 for several mornings and thinking about it, I decided that in those wee hours, instead of getting up, I would stay in bed and "be still". I would spend that time "knowing" that He is God. My goal was to meditate on the attributes of God until at least 4AM. That would mean spending about a half hour before I would get up, get my coffee, etc. The Psalmist writes of being still in the midst of some pretty raucous times. The waters are roaring, the mountains are shaking, and wars are ongoing. Surely in the peacefulness of the early morning, I could be still and draw near to God.
I have realized it's not as easy as it sounds. I can't be awake and do nothing except think about God. Almost immediately I am thinking of all the things I could be doing: uploading photos to make an album, emailing, researching heaters for turtle tanks, pricing a new woodstove, searching for a pull-up bar for Abby...
I have also come to realize that if I stay still, my mind wanders. As hard as I try to stay focused, my mind wanders from thoughts of who God is, onto concerns for my husband, my kids, my siblings, my parents, my grandparents, finances, what part of the house needs work, friends who are having troubles, etc. etc. etc. Some would say I should pray for those things as they come to mind. But the whole point is to not ask the Lord for favors, but to reflect on who He is.
I timed myself this morning. Really. I managed to stay on task for all of one and a half minutes. And that was when I caught myself. It was probably even shorter.
I was frustrated, so this morning I looked up the Hebrew translation for "be still". For me, sometimes looking up the Hebrew (or Greek) meanings gives me insight, renewed conviction, or a new direction. The translation for "be still" is "raphah", which means a lot of things including: to relax, to cease, to forsake, to be weak. Then I looked up "know", and it is "yada" which also means a lot of things such as: to ascertain by seeing, to be aware, to comprehend, to discover. It has the connotation of knowing something or someone by way of experience.
It would seem that God is telling me that if I want to know Him (see Him, be aware of Him, comprehend Him, discover who He is), then I need to relax, cease my striving, forsake my cares and concerns, and admit my weaknesses.
It's even more than that, I realized. It's a command. "(You) Be Still. (You) know." My first inclination was to groan. No, really. The words, "It's too hard. I've tried and I can't do it," actually ran through my head in a whiny tone.
But did I really try? I know the answer is "Not really". As soon as my mind wanders, I give up. I get out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and start my day. So how badly do I really want fellowship with God? Am I willing to wrestle like Jacob did? Hanging on through the struggle, unwilling to give in to my anxious and wandering thoughts. And like Jacob, won't I find a blessing in the end?