B STILL in a 65 MPH World
That’s what the license plate said on the SUV that whipped past me on the freeway. The irony is obvious - a message of calm on the backside of a vehicle built to move as much as possible as fast as possible. But it’s been about two weeks since I saw that license plate in morning traffic, and something about it still bugs me.
Is it possible to “B STILL” and still be moving so fast?
Okay. So now I have a flood of thoughts that fly all over the place, and I’ll tell you right now - this blog post isn’t going to be organized or pithy. I feel a nagging need to untangle this web of convoluted thoughts, unpack the crazy notion I’ve got that it might just be possible to be still and still be speeding around life. ‘Cause I can’t shake the idea and that usually means God’s got something He wants me to think through and figure out. Experience tells me He’s not going to just let it go either. He’s bossy that way. So I might as well dive in and try to think this through.
I’m assuming that whoever spent the extra money for the “B STILL” vanity plate that’s thrown me for such a loop had the following verse reference in mind:
"Be still, and know that I am God;” (Psalm 46:10a)
A coffee-cup verse if ever there was one. A script I’ve seen scrawled in varying forms on pretty mugs, cards, crafts, and framed art. A pithy encouragement to look to the Lord in every circumstance, to calm ourselves, to breathe, to let go and let God. I have an inherent problem with coffee-cup verses, though. They’re often taken out of context and rarely have enough substance to hold the weight of the world I live in.
But put this whole “be still” thing in its context….
Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalms 46:8-11)
Desolations? Bows and spears and shields on fire? Wars and fortresses? This sounds a lot more like what I see when I look up from my morning cup of joe. Often when I’ve taught this popular “be still” verse that looks so great in cross-stich, I point out that the full context sounds a lot more like God saying “Sit down and shut up, because I’m the one in charge.” And knowing God is good, I find that more calming than any coffee-cup version of the sentiment. I’d be happy for more than a few of us to sit down and shove our hands under our butts rather than keep fighting, fretting, and fidgeting over all sorts of nonsense. I’m chief among the tiresome lot most of the time.
Still, I’ve got this question: can I “B STILL” and still move at the pace of life in the world I live in? Or do I have to stop and be so much roadkill on the highway? Get left behind? Miss out? Gasp…the horror!
As I’ve pondered this over the last several days, one thing keeps coming back to mind. “Being” still isn’t the same thing as “doing” still. Yes, I know I’m splitting semantic hairs here, but the distinction can be important.
For example, I know how to do still. I can sleep in on a Saturday with the best of ‘em, waste a tremendous amount of time on social media, and generally veg out on the couch with electronic entertainment. Shut ‘er down and do still? No problem. But my insides aren’t still at all. My sleep can be filled with disturbing anxious thoughts, my jealousy roused by all the wonderful things I see my Facebook friends doing without me, and that TV show may just convince me that my life is lame. I can writhe inside while I do still.
On the other hand, I’ve had the rare privilege of flying by the seat of my pants at work and home, cramming each moment with as much productivity as possible, and reveling in a deep sense of calm and joy. A friend of mind told me just today I’m the busiest person she knows. And yet I still have some inkling of what it feels like to be still when I’m far from doing still.
That might be good news for some of us. Being and doing are not the same thing. Being is a state of the spirit, while doing has to do with motion and inertia.
Don’t mistake me - our ability or inability to do still can be a great indicator of where our “be still” meter is running. Can’t do still at all ever? Then I doubt you’re being still ever either. It’s possible in theory, I suppose. But highly unlikely.
In fact, my best indicator of how I’m doing on the “be still” scale is when I do still and actually listen to my brain and my spirit. When I let the wind noise in my ears fade to silence and just…stop. If my spirit keeps going at 65, 75, 85 MPH when my body has come to a screeching halt, then there’s no “B STILL” on my bumper.
This is reason #4,217 why we need to practice the self-discipline of Sabbath (a.k.a take a freaking break) on a regular basis. How can we to know how to be still in the middle of this crazy, war torn, desolation of a world if we never stop and find out? And if we can’t Sabbath, slow down, breathe, and be still to know that He is Lord, then there’s good reason to believe there’s nothing still or calm or at peace about us. And that will show at some point. We’ll crash and burn as surely as that SUV will if the driver never applies the brakes. It’s the pedal in the middle, by the way. Use it.
Gotta be honest, this week doesn’t look like it’s going to be any slower than last week, or the week before. Next week I’ll be doing, doing, doing again as well. It’s a busy season of life, and not just for me but for most people I know. And yet, I’m beginning to believe that I can be still even when I’m not doing still in the moment.
How? By knowing that He is God and I am not.
When all of my doing is about controlling and manipulating and striving for outcomes, then I’m trying to play God in my own life. Know what? I make a lousy God. He’s much better at it than me. But when my doing is about other things, namely living life the way He’s designed and called for me to live it, then I can live at 65 MPH when necessary, weave through the traffic patterns on the highways of life, and somehow “B STILL”.
Not that I get this right with any consistency, mind you. But I’m getting a lot of practice. With that comes the practiced and regular discipline of a day off and a 15-minute break in the middle of my work day and prioritizing time off with family and friends. That whole self-care thing that I started the year off with helps me check in frequently to see how the “be still” thing is going.
So there. All my thoughts dumped on the table. I’ll just leave those right there for you and ask what you think. Do you know how to “B STILL’’ in a 65 MPH world? Not easy, I know. But if you and I take the time to do still, and to know that He is God, I believe it’s possible.