Be Still and Know God
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.
Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
What is anything in life compared to peace of soul?”
― St. Francis de Sales
Take Up & Read over the course of this week, making notes in your bible or in a journal:
In the interest of full disclosure, this format of sharing Scripture with you comes at a great cost. In an effort to create scripture studies and to tell you about scripture studies, I hurried and hustled and worried and worked myself into a frenzy in the last year. I neglected my health and, to some degree, my household. I lived in a constant state of frantic production in order to make this ministry work. And in so doing, I learned a lot about what not to do. As a result, we re-structured Take Up & Read. But as big as that renovation is, it’s nothing compared to the lessons I learned and the renovation to my soul.
Lesson number one: do not equate incessant busyness with efficiency and productivity. They are not necessarily even correlated. What God desires is not perpetual motion. He desires that we rest in Him and that we work from a place of peace and trust. God wants us to slow down. We have time.
Don’t hurry. Hush the hustle. We seek change, and change will come as we develop new habits. Development takes time. Transformation happens slowly, one small step at a time. But don’t give up—persevere. Keep at it. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. So often, when we are even just a little out of step with God’s will in our lives, it feels as if everything is awry. It’s all too much and it’s all caving in us and we think we have to work frantically to fix it. But maybe, what the situation demands instead is that we step out in trust and just rest in Him. Just do the next single thing He sets in front of us in that moment, with a peaceful, recollected heart. It’s the peaceful heart that is the imperative.
In Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Fr. Jacques Phillipe shares:
Often we become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow him to act and work in us with His wisdom and power, which are infinitely superior to ours…. This doesn’t mean we should be lazy or inactive. Trusting God is courageously and powerfully active. This is an invitation to act, even to a tiresome level at times, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit. This is not a spirit of disquietude, agitation, or excessive hurry, which is too often the case with us and the way we want to be active.
For me, this summer, it all came crashing down. May found me so sick I couldn’t do the normal things of life. Interestingly, my normal way of “managing” stress is motion. I walk for miles—the more stressed, the more I walk. I clean my house—the more stressed, the cleaner it gets. But not this time. This time, I had to be still. And try as I might, I don’t remember exactly how the habit began, but the Holy Spirit propelled me to an Adoration chapel. There, I was still before God. I had no set agenda. I had no script of prayers. I just sat there, totally spent, and waited to see what happened.
Floodgates of grace opened up. Literally, over the course of several weeks, so many obvious moments of “God was here” happened. Physical healing came very, very slowly. But spiritual healing astounded me. I did not hurry. I could not hurry. I was still. And God let me know him in the stillness. He invited me to stop trying so hard, and to trust him instead.
I want you to take two things from this. The first is that Adoration is a good thing. I cannot overstate the mystical power it has to bring peace to your life. Go to Adoration. Find a way. Take the baby if you need to. If there’s no chapel near you, just sit in silence before the tabernacle in your church. Switch off with a friend while the kids play at the church playground or run around on the grounds. Do whatever it takes to be still before the Lord. Let Him open the floodgates of holiness.
The second thing is to bring a spirit of stillness and adoration into your home so that you are able to access that peace. In his book, The Power of Silence, Cardinal Robert Sarah writes, “Let us not hesitate to give pride of place to silent daily prayer in the solitude of our room...we can become true contemplatives by living in peace with God if our houses become temples of God.” Think of your home in a new way, and be sure there is a place for your soul to retreat and be still in the silence with God.
Take your time with the Scripture readings this week. Ideally, bring them with you to Adoration and just sit with God in quiet and stillness and hear what He tells you in the Word.
Think about Place + Purpose. Begin by creating a sanctuary for your soul in your home, somewhere that you will want to be. Know that this will be the place where you begin your day. What’s most important? Where do you draw strength? What (few) objects can you put there to support and encourage the practice of rising first to meet Jesus? See The Little Oratory for more thoughts on this idea.