Sit. Stay. Those are the words that trickled into my heart the other morning as I sat on the bench in our backyard. I’d read a chapter in a “Christian” book (ever wonder what makes a book “Christian”? is the cover baptized before pages are inserted? the binding blessed by the manufacturer? Just wondering…), then another chapter in a tome not so described. The morning was still, the grass dewy damp, the blue sky cloudless. It wasn’t as though my To Do list didn’t have items screaming to be crossed off. Certainly I should be busy about something. But the whisper remained: Sit. Stay.
Members of the ministry team to which I belong recently participated in one of those “what’s-your-personality/lifestyle/work style” analyses. Not much new was revealed in my case: along with other insights that won’t exactly make front page news, my colleagues saw that I work best alone, that I am logical and realistic, and that I work to “get the job done.” While reflection and contemplation top the list of characteristics, I also chafe at the discipline that it takes to sit—and sit still—long enough for contemplation to produce fruit.
Why is it that we hand our biggest rewards to those who visibly accomplish the most? Why do we honor those whose lists have everything crossed off at the end of the day? We are privileged to receive newsletters (sometimes called “prayer letters”) from individuals involved in Christian ministry and in them we glimpse great Kingdom work being accomplished. I must admit that sometimes I’m exhausted by these faithful people who seem to work 24/7 without breaks, leading four Bible studies a week, speaking consistently before groups large and small, attending church-related functions, counseling those in need. (Maybe some of you think that about me?? 😒)
Then there are the letters from one woman who works in what is commonly called a “secure” country, letters filled with gems she’s gleaned from reading a particular psalm. Or how she discovered a deeper understanding of the character of God while walking on the beach. Or how face down on her bedroom floor she poured out her craving for peace in the midst of conflict, joy in the midst of trial. And, oh yes, there was a short paragraph about several young women who had just begun their new lives with Christ and how my friend is pouring herself into them. Mm-m-m-m, a connection?
Sitting still isn’t easy. The other morning it took nearly an hour before my mind settled, my “do” personality quieting so my “be” personality could emerge, my squirming body resting. But finally the squirming stopped, settled quiet seeped into my soul and I heard only the birds and saw only the sky.
My heart cry is to know God. To know him more deeply. To know him so well that I hear his slightest whisper. Into my heart that morning came these familiar words: “Be. Be still. Be still and know. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know that I am God.”
I need more sitting time, more staying time on the bench.