Since my teen years, I have always been drawn to this verse. While many find comfort in its simple message, I find it challenging and difficult most of the time. I am not a very good still person. I am not necessarily the wind-in-your-hair, juggling a million things at once, can’t sit still kind of person (that is my husband’s personality), but even while sitting without movement, my mind is never still. There is not a time when I am not planning something: lists, projects, retorts. My mind is always on full tilt ‘GO’. The discipline that it takes to just be still. To quiet your mind and body to the point that God can speak to you as you simply listen is a challenging habit of which I am constantly trying to develop.
In wake of the horrific events of this past week, I heard a phrase that immediately resonated with me. In fact, I felt a bit selfish when after hearing the first official use it, I reached into the chaos and plucked it out, tucking it into my back pocket, thinking, ‘After the intensity of this is over, I want to sit a few moments with that phrase and all of its potential meaning.’
We are hard-wired to trudge through. We are given numerous obstacles and challenges throughout life and our gut reaction is to fix it. Fix it! I can Pro/Con lists out of thin air when something presents itself as a challenge to the trajectory of my life. What is the best scenario? What is the worst scenario? How do I go around this or how do I plow through it?
Yet sometimes, it is most efficient and productive to simply stay put. To wait it out. To let some of the stirred up trouble around us settle as we shelter-in-place.
As the police and FBI warned over a million Boston area residents to stay where they were and not come outside, I sat in Omaha, Nebraska glued to the tv, as many of you were as well. I thought about the many times I have said, ‘I need to run to the store first thing in the morning or we won’t have anything for breakfast tomorrow.’ I wondered how many young families found themselves in that tight spot, unable to leave their homes. I wondered about the antsy-ness of young children wanting to go outside. And what about a dog that needs to use the facilities in the backyard?!
So many scenarios ran through my head that day as we all tried to imagine what it would be like to fear the outside of our homes: our safe places.
Yet the authority figures knew best. They had the greatest amount of information. And for our sakes, they implored the Boston area to shelter-in-place. Stay where you are. Squelch the fear and mounting tensions for just awhile. Wait and trust us to fight in your stead.
The meaning of the phrase grew greater throughout the day. How often have I been told the same thing by a Lord who knew better. How often have I insisted, ‘But…but…but I can do this. Or I can try that.’ as God impressed upon me to simply be still. To wait. To shelter in place.
The times that I have obeyed, sat down and quieted my thoughts…
The times I have released the situation to His control, unclenching my fists and grasp…
Those are the times when I showed my trust in His understanding, by allowing Him to act while I simply stayed protected in one place, unflinchingly.
As a nation and truly, as a world of humans, we have gained yet another scar. Our trust and faith in our fellow journeymen has been shaken. We will begin, this week, to move from our places of fear into a renewed sense of calm and acceptance. Eventually, (unbelievably), we will begin to forget.
Yet out of all the ugliness and hellacious images of the Boston Marathon terror, I am choosing to keep that phrase in my back pocket. I will share it with you, if you’d like. We all need to be reminded that the best step forward is not always a step, but rather a time of standing still and waiting for God to move on our behalf and prepare a path for which we can eventually walk with confidence and safety.
Shelter in place.
Be still and know.