Be still and know that I am God.
Have you ever seen a Saguaro cacti? They're only found in one part of the world: the Sonoran Desert in northwest Mexico and the far southwest US. They are breathtaking to behold. Some grow up to 40 feet high, with thick stems and arms that extend like huge pipes. But there is more than meets the eye. Every towering saguaro tells a story. They didn’t start like that. When they took root, you weren’t born yet. After 10 years of growth, a saguaro only reaches an inch in height. A century later, at 90-100 years, it will grow its first arm. Standing in front of a saguaro is amazing. It gives you a strange sense of rootedness. You are looking at something that was alive well before you and will likely be alive after you. And it’s been rooted in place the whole time. Grounded. Consistent. The picture of stillness.
We have trouble fathoming something as steady as the Saguaro. We move around a lot. Not just in where we live, though that is certainly true. We move around in our minds. We move in our emotions. We move in our priorities.
Not all of this is bad. In fact, many forms of movement are a part of the growing and living experience.
But there’s something compelling about the saguaro. There’s something beautiful about slow movement when the rest of the world is spinning out of control. It’s consistent.
In Psalm 46, the Psalmist speaks about how scary the world has become. Everything is shifting sand. He writes of mountains quaking and falling into the sea. The earth is giving way. Nations are in uproar. It feels like chaos. But in the midst of his head spinning back and forth, looking at everything going wrong and how scary it all is, he hears the whisper of God’s voice: "Be still and know that I am God.”
It is a word of trusting God, but it is also a word of challenging the frenetic pace of his mind. It’s about living a consistent life with God.
Being still is harder and harder.
It’s hard to slow down our bodies enough to be rooted in meaningful tasks.
It’s hard to be aware that God is God and we are not.
It’s hard to give even a few minutes of time to prayer and move beyond interruption from our phones and surroundings.
And it’s really hard to slow down our minds enough to be still and really know God.
We are in a society that bounces from one stress to another in our own lives. Then we listen to the news or look on social media and see mountains shifting and nations in uproar. We are embedded in a world of constant outrage and indignation. We walk around so angry and hyped up that we can miss the daily opportunities God gives us to love each person in front of us… which is one of the clearest ways to begin healing the world. If we can’t be still and know that God is God, we will never be able to discern what is ours to do. And we certainly won’t be able to do it consistently over the long haul.
It’s in the stillness that we learn to know God. It’s in the rootedness that we truly grow arms to do good work.
This week, in the moments that you feel mountains quaking in the world around you or in the world within you, take a moment to be still and know that God has given you an unshakeable kingdom of Love. That’s what we live out of, and that’s what we invite others into.
Jesus, teach me to be still and know you.