I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
2 That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
3 when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains shake because of its surging waves. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,
the holiest dwelling of the Most High.
5 God is in that city. It will never crumble.
God will help it when morning dawns.
6 Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.
God utters his voice; the earth melts.
7 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah
8 Come, see the Lord’s deeds,
what devastation he has imposed on the earth—
9 bringing wars to an end in every corner of the world,
breaking the bow and shattering the spear,
burning chariots with fire.
10 “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!
I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!”
11 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah
Psalm 46 reminds us of the timeless wisdom of stillness. We live in a world in which changes occur so rapidly that we can’t begin to keep up with all of them. Change is present in every aspect of our lives, and it is so rapid that, paradoxically and oxymoronically, change has become constant!
So many things change so fast that we can hardly adjust. Think about the last few decades. Think of all the changes in every single area of life: travel, communications, family relationships, the job market, science, space travel, electronics, data storage and processing, education, farming, etc.
Even in the past five years each of us has experienced a lot of change and the pace of change seems to increase exponentially. Not only that, but there is such division in our nation and in our world. An article in The New York Times carries a front-page article on the deep divisions within our nation, saying in the headline that we are “a country at odds with itself.”
Here are a few excerpts from that article: “The country is gripped by a climate of division and distrust rivaled by few other moments in the recent past…Beyond government, the country’s collective institutions — including the news media, the clergy, and even professional sports and the entertainment industry — are in turmoil, with no obvious balm within reach….”
Every one of us knows the painful truth of that article. The United States is not alone. Deep divisions exist within other nations and there is conflict among the nations of the world.
In Psalm 46, the psalmist poetically describes a sense of security, peace, and confidence in the midst of a changing, sometimes chaotic, and violent world: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” He describes national and international strife: “The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter.” He then proclaims, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
But he doesn’t end there. He moves to a reminder that we — and people of faith in every age —need to hear: “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth.” These are words we need to hear in our time and place.
When we want to get something done, it is our habit to say, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” When God wants to get something done in us, it seems God is saying, more often than not, “Don’t just do something. Sit there.”
“Be still” is a way of saying let go and trust God. Let go and remember that God is God and you’re not.
Two centuries ago, Soren Kierkegaard said that if he were a physician and he was allowed to make one prescription to cure all the ills of the world, the one prescription would be silence, silence.
Isn’t that interesting? Two centuries ago, he so sensed the need for silence that he said it would be the one prescription for curing the world’s ills.
We live in a time that’s much noisier than the nineteenth century. And so how much more true is it for you and for me that we need silence, we need to be still, to be at rest in order to be open to God’s presence.
C.S. Lewis said, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”
Several years ago, my friend and member of this church, Paul Driskell, led the congregation in prayer. He had an image he used in that prayer that I jotted down and have remembered through these years: “the sands of hope cannot be eroded by waves of despair.”
I invite you today to pray the “Listener’s Prayer” by Sir Paul Reeves, prayed at the World Council of Churches Seventh Assembly in Canberra, Australia:
God, Grant me to
Be silent before you — that I may hear you;
At rest in you — that you may work in me;
Open to you—that you may enter;
Empty before you—that you may fill me.
Let me be still
And know you are my God. Amen.
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these words of scripture and reflection.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster