Did you know that just being afraid of something is not considered a phobia? The fear must altar your behavior in some way to be considered a phobia. The same is true of anxiety. Many times we may be anxious, but when it causes us to change what we’re doing, we are considered to have anxiety. It shows up in different ways. Many times, we try to altar the situation ourselves, but that can make things worse. We don’t make the best decision when we are worried. I know that for me, it causes me to run through scenarios trying to find the right way to fix it. I lose sleep and can’t concentrate on things throughout my day. In turn, it affects every area of my life until I’m so desperate that I force the issue.
You’ve no doubt heard the Psalm that tells us to be still and know that He is God. What you may not know is that the Hebrew words for be still mean to let hang down; to be relaxed, especially the hands. It can also mean to not make an effort or exertion. Meaning take your hands off the situation and let God handle it. The Passion Translation takes that into account and writes that verse this way, “Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). So many times anxiety has altered our minds to the point that we lose sight of God in our situation. God wants to remind us that He sees us, and knows what we’re going through.
It’s tough to take our hands off the situation. It’s better to ask God for wisdom in how to handle it though. Ask God to give you peace in your mind and clarity of thought as well. Surrender your anxiety to Him, recognize He is in control and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Our behavior change in a situation should not be out of anxiety, but rather out of thoughtful prayer after we’ve handed it over to God. If you want to see God in what’s going on, be still, put your hands down and relax. Breathe. Pray. Listen. Begin to thank God for all He’s done, and all He’s going to do. Your life is in His hands and He is in charge of the outcome. Trust that He will do what’s best and grow you through it. God is at work and it’s for your good.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
There’s a difference between solitude and loneliness. One can lead to depression and the other to self awareness or spiritual awakening. One of the shows I watched on Hulu this year was “Alone”. They take several people into some of the coldest and remote parts of the world and drop them off miles apart to survive. They are completely alone in the wilderness and the last person standing wins. Many face loneliness pretty quickly and tap out. Others it hits after several weeks. However, there are some who learn to use the solitude as a means of self discovery and start to have epiphanies. It’s incredible to me to watch these things happen as they start to describe their realizations.
I believe solitude is a lost spiritual discipline. In today’s world we are always connected and available to be reached by someone. Our brains have created the fear of missing out (fomo) and have tethered us to constant information sources. If we’re constantly connected to the things of this world, it’s hard to hear the voice of God. Our fear of missing out has been misplaced. We are missing the voice of God and looking to other voices to replace it. We are constantly connected, yet still feel alone. God is calling us to have regular times of solitude in His presence, but we rarely, if ever do it.
We know Psalm 46:10 by heart and can recite, “Be still and know that I am God,” but when are we ever still? Mark 1:35 says, “The next morning, Jesus got up long before daylight, left the house while it was dark, and made his way to a secluded place to give himself to prayer” (TPT). Jesus made it a regular habit to daily find seclusion and solitude to hear the voice of God. He is our example of this discipline that we should follow. I admit, it’s not easy to sit in silence at first. Try doing it for 10 minutes and wait on God. Leave your phone, your smart watch and all other distractions in another room. Practice being still and waiting on God, and you will find that you will know Him more and develop a deeper relationship with Him.
Have you ever been sitting at a red light, or in traffic, and looked over and thought, “When did they build that?” It happens to me all the time. I take the same route to work each day, but sometimes the traffic patterns change. I’ll look over and see a building or something else and wonder how I missed it before. I’d driven by it a 100 times before, but somehow I’d never seen it. Was I too tired every other time? No. The difference is that this time I stopped and then looked around.
It makes me wonder how much of who God is, and what He says, that we miss because our prayers just us talking. I wonder how much He’s trying to show us, but our lives are too busy. He created us to be industrious. That’s a great trait that He put in us, but He also knew that it would mean we need to be reminded to stop and breathe every once in a while or we’d miss Him. We have a tendency to make everything so much about us, that we lose sight of our creator.
In Psalm 46:10 God said, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (NLT) When we learn to be still in His presence, in prayer and in life, we begin to notice things about Him that we’ve never seen. Society has taught us that growth and advancement come from being busy, but God teaches us that they come from being still. Today, make time to stop and be still so you can see things you’ve never seen. God is waiting and wanting to reveal Himself to you. Are you willing to slow down and notice?
My son is every bit of six years old. He runs through the house at full speed, laughs so hard he can’t hear anything and has to do everything himself. There are many times when I’m trying to give him instructions, but he keeps going. I yell his name to get his attention, but he keeps going. I’ve tried with everything in me to get him to hear me, but often I get no response while he’s moving around. It’s not until I have to get up, go over to him and get in his space that he hears me or realizes I’m trying to give him instruction.
I know he probably gets that from me, and as I think about it, I wonder how often that describes me today. How often is God trying to get my attention, screaming my name, but I can’t hear Him because of my busyness? I’ve got a lost of things to do, my mind is racing with ideas of what’s next and I’m halfway looking where I’m going. I don’t stop until God gets in my space and says, “Hey! I’m trying to talk to you. I’ve been trying to get your attention, but you won’t stop and listen.”
In those moments, I wonder how long He had been trying to get my attention. I have to think back, replay the last little bit and see all the ways He was trying to get my attention. I then seek forgiveness for being to busy to hear Him and renew my commitment to slow down. That’s when I’m reminded of Psalm 46:10. It says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (NLT) I think the Psalmist was a lot like me and that was his message from God that goes out to all of us who run full speed all the time.
I’ve learned that God cares less about my busyness and more about my ability to stop and listen. I’m learning from my son that when I’m running around, I can’t hear what’s being said. I can’t focus on what I’m supposed to. How many mishaps could have been prevented? How many blessings have I missed out on because I was too busy to hear Him? If you’re like me, let me encourage you to take time to stop today and listen. Chances are that God is calling your name and is trying to get your attention.
I’ve always heard that if you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards. Sometimes it’s all we can do to put one foot in front of the other. When your life has been flipped upside down, you become directionally challenged. What seems like the right direction may not be right. It’s tough to know which way forward is in those moments. You may feel like you’re drowning and you can’t stay still, so you move in the direction you hope is forward just so you can leave the place where you are.
I remember taking swimming lessons as a kid. They warned us that under water, you can lose your sense of direction. In those moments it’s easy to panic, and to start swimming thinking you’re moving closer to air, when in reality, you’re going further down. Going the wrong direction can cost you more than time. To help, they taught us a simple rule to help determine the right way to swim. Be still. When you quit fighting and are still, your body will naturally float to the top. Once you’re moving in that direction, swim with all your might.
The same thing is true for us spiritually. When were lost and confused as to which way is forward, be still. You’ve heard Psalm 46:10 as, “Be still and know that I am God,” but I like the Good News Translation even better. It says, “’Stop fighting,’ He says, ‘and know that I am God.’” When you’re under water and you’re drowning, it’s natural to fight, but God says, “Stop fighting. Be still.” When we do that, not only will we know He is God, but we will find the way forward. Quit panicking trying to get out of this phase and be still. When God sends you in the right direction, go forward with all your might.