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Posts Tagged ‘being still’

IMG_20180710_143310824I glance up from my desk and notice a rather impressive visitor sitting on our balcony railing about a metre from my study window—a kookaburra, looking as if it owns everything within view! I move to take its photo through the glass and it turns its head slightly, as if to say, ‘I know you’re there, but I also know I’m safe from you out here!’ Some smaller, noisy birds do not like that larger, alert presence nearby and try to frighten it away by squawking loudly and bombarding it. Yet it remains immovable, save for a slight shuffle along the railing and a few sharp turns of its head. Its eyes are on a nearby prize—perhaps something for dinner that those other birds also want?

As I watch, I marvel at how still that kookaburra seems to be. No doubt it is extremely alert to what is happening around it—and that soon become obvious, when it suddenly flies down to ground level, then plucks a poor, unsuspecting worm from the soft soil. In a few moments, that worm is no more. All that stillness and watchfulness on the part of the kookaburra have paid off—it has found its dinner.

At that point, I begin to suspect God has an important lesson to teach me about being still. I might be physically still, as I sit gazing at that kookaburra—but I am not mentally still. Even as I watch, my mind is darting this way and that. I wonder whether what I am writing makes sense or will amount to anything in the end. And I am not still deep inside me either. Instead, I feel somewhat stressed—I am worried about someone I care about who is facing many difficulties and also about an upcoming speaking engagement, not to mention my writing project. I am aware God knows about all these issues—yet I am struggling to stay in that place of stillness and peace with God and of complete trust that God has it all in hand.

I move my hands off my keyboard and lay them in my lap. I breathe deeply, letting my body relax. I picture God’s loving arms holding me close and sink back into them, sensing God’s Spirit both in me and around me. I still my mind and my heart, knowing it is enough to be in this present moment with God. Then I hear again some words read out at church only days earlier:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea … “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:1, 10

In the stillness too, a gentle voice reminds me I am in a daily battle with an age-old enemy and need to remain so very vigilant.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Yes, I need to be alert and watchful like that kookaburra—yet also deeply still, so aware my loving, almighty God is with me at all times, don’t you agree?

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One morning recently, I turned on my computer and noticed someone had left a Skype message for me. I proceeded to investigate and, as I had suspected it might be, it was my friend who lives on the other side of the world, sending me a chirpy, little message.

Hi!  You’re on the computer nice and early in the morning!  I haven’t even gone to bed yet on the day before!

We then proceeded to have a brief, written ‘chat’ before she closed down for the night.

Not long after, I received an email from another friend who I knew was currently overseas. She was emailing from Dubai Airport via her Ipad in the middle of an eighteen hour wait for her flight home! Her travel plans had been disrupted because of the extreme winter weather in Europe. But on top of that, she felt distinctly fluey and was asking us to pray she would be okay during the rest of her waiting period and then on the flight home.

Later that day, I began to realise how readily I had taken for granted the fact that these two friends could contact me so easily. Yet how amazing that someone on the other side of the world would notice me online and be able to say a quick hi! And how amazing my friend could immediately gather together the prayer support she needed as she sat in a strange airport!

A few days ago, I opened my computer to find that a reader had contacted me via my website to say she had just re-read my first four novels and enjoyed them so much yet again. She had written especially to encourage me. Yet I did not stop to enjoy the moment, take in her words fully and thank God for them. Then I noticed someone had sent me a message via Facebook, telling me how she had given some copies of my non-fiction book Soul Friend away at Christmas and how one girl she mentors had devoured the book and gained so much from it. ‘Oh, that’s nice!’, I thought to myself—and went blithely on with whatever I was doing.

But then that voice inside me pulled me up short. Here I was, taking for granted these lovely messages from my readers. Here was I, so full of my own concerns, almost missing the gentle ways God was using others to encourage me in my writing journey.

Have you been so wrapped up lately in all the big and urgent issues of life that you have almost ignored that prompting inside you, urging you to stop and enjoy the moment, to be thankful for the blessings right before your eyes that you take for granted? Could God be trying to get your attention, too?

This week, I read a familiar verse, Psalm 46:10, that I am sure was another little prompt from God:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I don’t want to take God for granted. Each day, I want to be still and acknowledge God’s greatness, tuning my ears in more and more readily to the Holy Spirit’s voice and seeing God’s hand in every part of my life.

How about you? Stop for a moment. Look around you. Listen for God’s gentle whisper. Be still, and know that God is there.

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