Meditation. Yoga. Zen. Centering. It’s in magazines and fitness classes and elementary school phys. ed. We know we need slow down. But. When the same magazine suggests we need to redecorate, dress better, shop more, and be a super parent, we feel less contemplative by the time we’re done reading. We need more than just another yoga class to quell our obsession with productivity and efficiency.
It’s not a new problem. Way back in Bible times, the psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.” One version translates the same verse as, “Stop striving and know that I am God.” How apt.
So simple. So hard.
We need to be still. To stop at the heart level. I don’t know about you, but to still my busy brain and squirmy body is work. I’m like my five-year-old — “But there’s a shiny thing over there… I need to know what happens if I push that button!… Ooh! A snack! Yum! …A ball. I have to kick it!… A tool. I have to fix something!”
I need a metaphorical time out to stop the frenetic activity. More than a whisper of “Be still”, I need to be shaken and told firmly to shut up and sit down and breathe.
Stop trying to get things done. Stop trying to impress. Stop trying to keep up. Stop comparing. Stop striving.
I can easily shift from striving in one area of life to striving in another. Work is less busy, I’ll hit the gym hard and prove myself there. My husband’s work is less demanding, I can ramp up my own projects.
It feels good to have a project but if that project is just another striving — grasping at control and productivity because when I’m in control and productive, I feel useful or smart or capable — I’m just trading one stress for another.
… and know that I am God.
– Psalm 46:10
John Calvin wrote centuries ago, “ We must be fully convinced of our weakness if we are to yield to God’s power…” This was difficult for the people of the Old Testament and “…also for us, during this wretchedly ruinous condition of the church, it is extremely necessary.”
All my striving for control and feelings of usefulness are the antithesis of “knowing that God is God.” Those things are about me being God. It’s me being in control (or pretending I am!)
I want to call the shots. Except when I don’t. I’m quite happy to let the doctor set my broken arm. I don’t want that responsibility! I feel no need to be a back-seat driver when I’m in a prop plane. I’m confident the pilot knows his stuff and I don’t.
Handing the controls to God is never a loss. He is far better qualified to steer this ship. He is trustworthy. And trusting Him is freedom.
- Freedom from fear — because try as I might, there is much beyond my control.
- Freedom from anxiety — because I know WHO goes before me, even when I don’t know what is ahead.
- Freedom from obligation — because I am loved no matter who I disappoint.
- Freedom from performance — because being impressive does not make him love me more.
- Freedom from judging others — because that’s not my job, it’s his.
- Freedom from manipulating others — because he’s big enough to speak into their lives and I can’t change their hearts anyway.
- Freedom from people pleasing — because his opinion matters more.
So, go ahead take a break from striving and know that He is God. And that is best.