Day 8: Be Still
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by The Accuser for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
Once, a few years ago I had my car radio turned off while I drove home from work. Instead of the sing-along or podcast-along, I drove in silence. It was a good thing I did too, because my car started to make a strange noise--or rather, it was the first time I noticed the noise. A whine turned into a grind and my concern rose to a confounding apprehension. I called my friend, the mechanic and I imitated the sound for him as I drove down the road.
"Where are you?!" he exclaimed.
"Close to your house actually."
"Get here quick!"
I pulled into his driveway and whatever transmission fluid that remained in my car spilled out onto his driveway.
"It's a good thing you stopped driving because you were about to destroy your transmission."
It's a good thing my radio was off.
Sometimes you need the noise turned down so you can hear the problems that you didn't know about. But it's scary, "sometimes quiet is violent."
Psalm 46 invites us into the car radio moment. Amidst the chaos of life, God says to us, "Be still and know that I am God," and just like this song, the stillness doesn't always mean it's calm--especially in your soul. So look around you. Don't ignore the craziness of life. Don't pretend it doesn't exist. See it and then realize that The Lord of Hosts, the God of Heavens Armies, the God who fights for his people, he is in your midst. Two things happen in the stillness. The first is a very fearful thing and the second is liberating.
You see things for the way they really are.
"There is no distraction to mask what is real." The act of stilling yourself allows you the grace to lose the fantasy that you can really-actually-genuinely-completely do anything about the pile of overwhelming issues that you face in your life. It's a scary moment to see things the way they really are and to admit that you are overwhelmed. Thankfully there are two things that happen when you still yourself.
You come to know God.
The act of stilling yourself allows you the grace to see that you are not God but have been doing life as if you were, and you've been acting all alone, as if there is no one in this world who is on your side. In that place of feeling overwhelmed you are given the opportunity to relinquish the role you've been trying to play and actually let the Lord of Hosts be God.
Jesus does this same thing in his wilderness temptation. It is Jesus' decisive car radio moment. It's where he practiced Psalm 46 in a battle of epic proportions where the violence was found in the stillness of 40 days of fasting. There was "no distraction to mask what is real" and Jesus' soul was laid bare. In the stillness, in the cruelty of the hunger and exhaustion he saw things the way they really were and then he knew who God was.
Here's what happened:
The Accuser cunningly offered him the good and right desires of his heart. We could even see ourselves agreeing with the propositions, "Yes, you should eat and regain your strength because there is so much work to be done. You should claim messiahship and tell everyone that you are God. Of course you should take your seat at the throne. It is rightly yours!"
"Get behind me Satan!"
The Accuser made a good offer and Jesus could have taken what was already his. It would have made total sense when you think about Jesus' mission. But Jesus pulled off a masterful move, a "know that I am God," move. The moment the Accuser offered what already belonged to him, Jesus, who did not consider equality with God a thing to hold on to, deferred to his Father and he let his Father tell him who he was and when he should move, e.i. "Father, who do you say I am?"
This move toward humility and dependence is the move Psalm 46 is asking us to make in the stillness and astoundingly, the Son of God himself walks the path before us. Jesus didn't make claims about himself unless the Father did it first, "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Apparently, then, it is something of the divine to defer to the Father and ask, "Who do you say that I am?"
"My lungs will fill and then deflate."
Turn the radio off. Follow Jesus into the wilderness, into the stillness. Go slow. Take a full breath after every word…
I confess, you are God. Have mercy on my heavy dirty soul. You tell me who I am. Amen.