God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
"Be still, and know that I am God”.
Throughout the Bible God communicates in various ways. Some messages are commands, like the Ten Commandments. We are expected to follow a command. They are serious stuff. Other messages come as advice, hints and tips for getting along well in life. Our Bible verse falls in that category. We aren’t necessarily going to lose our way spiritually if we don’t follow it, but we are a lot better off if we do.
This suggestion to ‘be still and know that I am God’ is written at a time when the psalmist was under duress. The psalm begins with the words “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.” We are not made aware of what the world was throwing their way, but we can identify with that state of needing help.
God’s simple formula to help is three-fold: ‘be still’ and then ‘know,’ and finally ‘that I am God.’ The parts are not complex, but they are a challenge to practice. Just to ‘be still’ is difficult for many of us in today’s world. In those days, ‘be still’ was the translation of the Hebrew word rapha, which means to be weak, to let go, to release.
This original meaning, to release, has great power in our lives, as it did then. We are instructed in other places of the Bible to “not lean on our own understanding.” The phrase, ‘be still’, supports that idea. We are to surrender our control over what is happening to us and around us.
Of course, ‘surrender’ applies to many areas of our life. It means stopping our own negative, destructive activities and finding some time to rest. Set the unproductive behaviors aside and be still physically.
To be still means to abandon complacency and become involved in the service of others. Mother Theresa was once tending to a leper in India when a man walked by and said, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” She replied, “Neither would I. I do it for the love of the Christ.”
Spiritual surrender mean to be still mentally, to find a quiet place and release all our thoughts and tune into the Heart and Mind of God. This could be by embracing nature and feeling its beauty, power, and peace. It could mean sitting and being still, letting all our worries and thoughts of the day melt into the peace of God.
To be still spiritually is to let go of the small-self, which means to Edging God Out, and transform that small self into the larger self, which can be described also by ego: Enjoy God’s Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipotence.
Jesus knew this and as the Bible stated in Mark 1:35 - And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. Again, in Luke 6:12 we are told - In these days he went into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. Obviously, Jesus was an excellent student and followed all the hints that God provided.
But we struggle with this simple command, to be still – to release our hold on the world, to relinquish control over the results of our actions, and stop striving. To be still does not mean to be uncaring and do nothing. It means to do what God leads us to do and release the control of the timing, outcome, and how God is planning to bring His purpose to the situation. To be still means to be the open, clear, powerful vessel through which God will do His works.
Then the second part of the statement follows – to know. We are to surrender so that we can know, and be aware, and understand more fully. The implication is that we cannot understand what God wants for us unless we let go of what the world is offering us and surrender to what God is offering us.
And what is it that God is offering us? Himself, Be still and know God. Knowing God is not done through the world, although some scientists have found a way to incorporate God into their life philosophy. For instance, Einstein believed in God as Espinoza described: a God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists and plays no part directly in the fates and actions of human beings.
Theoretical physicist, Steven Weinberg, in his book Dreams of a Final Theory treads tentatively along that same path. He wrote that we are beginning to understand that everything in existence unfolds according to a simple plan, a set of inevitable laws. It becomes nearly irresistible, he writes, to speak of these laws as “the mind of God”. But then he asks why do so? If God can be defined so broadly that He can be identified with impersonal laws of nature, why do it? Why substitute the name God for ‘harmony’ or ‘order’. What’s the point in describing God as ‘energy’?
Here is my response: If God were only order and harmony, if God were only energy, the point would still be this: instead of God being something that we observe and measure, God becomes something that we experience; the order, harmony, and energy that is God becomes an ally that we can draw upon, embrace, and recognize our oneness with, and then allow to express through our own being.
That is if God were only order, harmony, and energy. But God is more than impersonal laws of nature. God is also collective awareness, consciousness. God is all, and all is in God; God is the God of the universal and the specific; God of the common and the esoteric; the God of all Creation and the individual.
There is a reason that discussions between atheists and Christians are doomed because they come from two opposing perspectives. The atheist argues that everything can be explained physically – it can be measured, monitored, tested, verified, and proven. They maintain that we cannot measure, test, or verify that there is a God, therefore God doesn’t exist.
The theistic perspective, however, says that not everything in existence is physical – some things cannot be measured or tested. How do you measure consciousness? What powers prayer? Sadly, science primarily dismiss healings that occur through prayer as regressions, or anomalies, and give no credence to self-healing, Spirit or any alternative process.
I do not want to diminish the importance that the sciences play. We live in a physical universe and walk this earth with a physical body. I am constantly in awe of the discoveries that science uncovers and how those revelations help our bodies and lifestyles and educate us on the Universe in which we live.
Although science can answer many questions, because it only concerns itself with the physical plane, there are questions not addressed by the traditional sciences: What is consciousness? What happens after death? Can love be measured? How does consciousness interact with matter and energy? For what purpose, if any, are we here?
The question as to the existence of God falls into this category. It does not require physical proof. Indeed, God cannot be proved through any physical means, only through spiritual means. And this proof is available to anyone with the desire to spend the time and spiritual effort to achieve oneness with God. Over a few thousand years enlightened ones, yogis, monks and Christian mystics have demonstrated that God exists and have shared their experiences with us. As Christians, Jesus is our way-shower. Through exhaustive study, prayer and meditation Jesus Christ proved the individualized essence of God.
Now, either Christ, and all the other yogis, saints, and enlightened folk are lying about their experiences, or they are telling the truth. Any scientist has the ability to move into prayer and meditation and experience God personally. But the proof will always be spiritual, not physical. We must come to know God through Spirit. We are told in John 4:23-24 “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
It is impossible to know God in totality while we are in these bodies. There is no clear concept. As Paul said, “we see in a glass, darkly”, unable to perceive clearly the truth of Spirit. God is based upon our perceptions. There is more to God than we can ever know; always more. God is order, harmony, and energy, and more. God is Love, and more.
It is like the folk-story of six blind men encountering an elephant for the first time. Each goes to the elephant and touches it. They each have a different conclusion as to what an elephant is depending on what they felt: a pillar, a rope, a thick branch, a big fan, a huge wall, a solid pipe.
They began to argue about the nature of an elephant when a wise man came by and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree on what the elephant is like." Each one described their impression of the elephant. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason each of you is telling it differently is because you touched the different parts of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those characteristics.” The men stopped fighting, happy that they were all correct and that through their shared experience they had a greater idea of the elephant’s nature.
There may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes we cannot, depending upon our own perspective. But rather than arguing like the blind men, Christ teaches us to ‘love our neighbor’, which includes allowing them to have their perspective.
We are asked to be still and know God. Each time we enter into prayer, God reveals something new. It is my prayer that as we come to know God more fully, we develop a more complete picture of this life we enjoy. I pray that we learn to live in harmony and peace with people who think differently, believe differently, and act differently than ourselves. I pray that we learn to appreciate our differences culturally, politically, socially, religiously, and ethnically. It is my prayer that we learn to take our shared experience and grow, change, evolve, and transform under the loving guidance of Christ.
We will experience vast miracles, challenges, and joyous moments through the blessings of God, and our direct and personal experience of God – order, harmony, energy, love, and more – begins with this simple instruction: Be still and know that I am God.