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Be Still....

I was preparing to teach our church’s children the story of Samuel anointing David to be the next king of Israel, and I found myself wondering what it was that God saw in David’s heart that made him the obvious choice for this job.

I thought about David the shepherd boy—alone on the hills with sheep, caring for them, yes, but with hours and hours, day after day, of solitude. Did he gaze up into the heavens and wonder about his God? Did he sing to the sheep and play music for them? Did he dream of what maybe lay ahead for him?

Then, after Samuel had anointed him, the Bible tells us, “From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”

This is David, before Jesus, yet well acquainted with the Father and the Spirit.

This is David, the man after God’s own heart, who wrote so many amazing psalms. Were they birthed on those lonely hillsides?

This is David: were the lion and the bear from which he had to protect his sheep merely foretastes of the warrior he was to become?

This is David who often encouraged his soul to wait patiently for the Lord, who once wrote of his soul:

              “But I have stilled and quieted my soul                                                                      like a weaned child with its mother,                                                     like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

And I think of David’s Son, our Savior Jesus, who spent so many early mornings and late evenings on the hills alone. Do you think those times were filled with words, or do you imagine Jesus just resting in the delight of being alone in the love of the Father and the encouragement of the Spirit?

Is there something that happens in silence and stillness that cannot happen in any other way?

I have always loved being alone and being quiet. I am the child who wandered for hours around my uncle’s sheep farm, accompanied only by my dog. I wonder for me too if something was birthed during that time.

But I know for many, being still and silent is really challenging. And, yet, in our frantic modern world where being “busy” seems to be the buzz word, how valuable it is for us to “come aside and rest awhile”, as Jesus invited His disciples.

Centering Prayer is one way to add this practice to your daily life. Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself---that space where you choose to be silent in God’s presence and just enjoy being with Him.  This is not a time of great revelation although sometimes you may find it so; it is a time just to be.

One way I have found helpful in beginning such a time is to use the verse from Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” Slowly say those words, pause and then say, “Be still and know that I AM…” Pause again and then say, “Be still and know...” Pause, say, “Be still…” and finally, “Be…”

Stilling the mind is a challenge for many of us—the thoughts go around and around—even when I am focused on being silent in God’s presence, I will suddenly realize my thoughts have taken me on a tangent. At that moment, one has a choice—give up and say, “I can’t do this!”, or, as my friend Richard Rohr says, whisper, “I am choosing you, Lord” and return to silence. Another help I have found is to imagine a river floating by; as you are aware of your attention going to something, name it, and put it in a boat, and let it float down the river!

The invitation from the God of the Universe to sit in His presence in His love is overwhelming. I encourage you if you have not before to give it a try. God in His huge generosity longs to bless you. Whatever is going on in your life, pause and sit with Him and allow the tension and stress to dissipate for a time. You will find yourself refreshed and ready to face the day.



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