When the World Spreads Fear, Be Still and Know
The last few days have been a whirlwhind. This past year I transitioned from part time writer and teacher at a small preschool at my church, to taking on the position of Director of said preschool, as it incresed by leaps and bounds.
I thought I was busy before, juggling the various medical needs in my household and writing lesson plans for my preschoolers and the Biblical history themed Sunday School class I teach. Yet this new position brought a new meaning to "busy-ness"- rivalling only one season when we were in doctors offices and hospital rooms Every. Single. Day. For months on end, as all three of those I care for were receiving much needed therapies. We were blessed by the gift of this treatment, but the schedule was intense.
I've been busy before. So I know I can survive it, but sometimes... well sometimes, I just need to STOP being so busy and get still. I recharge by being quiet and alone, and I refill by seeking connection with God. I will confess that there has been way less time for that in this season, but I am working to schedule times to rest and recover, weekly. This time has to be both planned for, and carefully guarded, so I can get into the Word and refill.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10. "Be still and know that I am God." I go to it often.
I like to use my Bible Gateway app to look up different versions of verses, as sometimes context is lost in translating from another language. The KJV and NIV versions I grew up memorizing are pretty straightforward.
The Voice version, my favorite translation because it is so very beautiful, says:
"Be still, be calm, see...
And understand that I am the True God.
I am honored among all the nations,
I am honored over all the earth."
Be calm, and see..
See what? See truth, I believe. Understand that the God who is loving and true cares for us, and we don't have to give in to fear.
Right now there is panic all over the U.S., and in other countries as well, due to the Corona Virus. People are wiping out grocery stores stockpiling food and toiletries as if the end of the world is nigh.
It's easy to get caught up in the state of frenzy, especially when you need toilet paper and a few weekly grocery items. Yesterday morning I got a bit frenzied myself, when I received word that the school district our preschool follows for "Emergencies, Bad Weather Days, and Health Advisories" was going to close for an additional week. Suddenly my last weekday of Spring break no longer offered a quiet morning to stay in my pajamas. I had a list of people to call and things to do a mile long.
In the middle of calls to my teachers, we got word that Sam's had toilet paper. My husband literally ran to change and headed up to grab a cart and the now precious commodity, even though he had to wait for me to meet him with the card so we could check out.
I changed out of my PJ's, did some very basic personal hygiene, grabbed the dry shapmpoo, and thanked God for the bluetooth option in my mini van. I fielded calls while searching the Sam's parking lot for a place to park. Meanwhile my son found toilet paper at Dollar Tree so I dashed over there to check out. Then BACK to Sam's where the lines were to the back of the store and the shelves were starting to look a bit scant.
One of the people I spoke to among the many calls I had to make said to me, "Take a deep breath." So I did. Then we got disconnected and I resumed my harried pace. After getting soaked to the skin (did I mention it was raining?), and while my husband headed back home, I sat in my car just to catch my breath.
WHEW! What a wirlwind. I had more to do, but something in me (the Holy Spirit) was silently urging me to take a minute. Re-center. Think straight for a bit.
The Complete Jewish Version of Psalm 46:10 is the (English) version that seeks to show us westerners what Jesus, as an eastern Hebrew and Aramaic speaking Jewish Rabbi would have known and discussed as he grew up in an ancient Jewish culture. It goes like this:
"Desist, and learn that I am God,
Supreme over the nations,
Supreme over the earth."
DESIST. It was as if the letters were in all caps. Let me tell you, despite everything calling for attention and a list as long as my arm of things to do, I desisted.
The context of this Psalm is a time of trouble and war. The meaning in the original context is "cease striving, and more specifically, stop fighting." To the people of God, this is a command "...snap out of it, stop fearing."*
It's easy to lose our head when the world around us seems full of uncertainty and the media is shouting messages of fear. We should be cautious, and we should be wise, but as people of God, sometimes we need to snap out of it. To turn off the TV, step away from social media, and get into the Word of God to find truth.
We have to turn off the "ambient noise" of the world, and step into a place of wisdom and the truth of God that casts out fear. The Psalms are a great place to start.
If we look back at Psalm 46:1-3 we see the Psalmist declare,
God is our refuge and strength,
An ever present Help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Thought the earth give way,
And the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam
And the mountains quake with their surging.
When the grocery store presents us with a mental battlefield, and the media is roaring and foaming, we must go to battle against fear. Proverbs 18:10 tells us that God is "our strong tower" and if we run to Him we will find safety. The Voice Version describes it like this, "The Eternal is known to be a sturdy watchtower, those who do right flee to Him for protection."
So if we turn off the fear flinging voices in the world, and open up the word of Truth, we do what is right, and healthy, and good for our souls. If we fill our mind with God's message of love to us, we can be equiped to battle fear with the Truth of God, that extinguishes the fiery darts of the enemy. (See Ephesians 6:10-18).
So, let's stop striving, let's DESIST.
Let's stop listening to the voices of urgency and fear. Let's be wise, and careful, but not obsess over the news or the current situation. Let's take time out from the whirlwind and find moments to connect with God--even those of us that can't always get to a quiet place, can seek him in the whirlwind. God is with us in the stormy and loud places too.
If you can get a bit of silence, seize that moment and fill it with the Voice of Truth. Be still, and be filled with the only One who can save us from ourselves.
Jehovah shalom, the Lord our peace, send your strong arm to rescue us from fear, urgency and striving. When chaos roars, calm our hearts and minds, reminding us to rest in You. Make us well, make us whole, fill us up with your presence and equip us to battle fear.
Turn our ears away from the lies of our enemy and towards your voice, the Voice of Truth.
Go with God, my friends,
*www.crosswalk.com, author: Liz Canoy