Rest is Stillness
We live in an extremely fast paced world - we are surrounded with noise - just listen for a moment - right where you are - cars are hooting, sirens blaring, music thumping, phones ringing and vibrating, fingers clicking and tapping, public voices in private conversation, and the list goes on and on. Welcome to the 21st century!
As technology advances, so we expect more from ourselves and from each other - we must be quicker at replying to the demands and questions posed by others - emails and texts require an immediate response. We rush from event to event, hardly pausing to eat properly between appointments. We appear to be purposeful and fulfilled and satisfied with all that we do and are involved in, because busy people are successful, significant people, aren't they?
Or are they?
Our legs are moving faster as we dash from here to there, but so are our minds - they are rarely still, but rather, they buzz and throb with to do lists, with responsibilities. They are constantly analysing, organising, strategising the never ending demands that life throws at us. Our minds are like fairground rides, spinning and turning, twisting and whirling with no break during daylight hours. For many, night time is no better, as they struggle to ever really switch off.
We manipulate time to fit more in. We use labour saving gadgets, fill our diaries, often with good things, and yet we are more stressed, more depressed, lonelier, and more anxious than ever. We are distracted and our ability to concentrate is hugely reduced.
I believe that the issues that drive us in this way are complex, and multi factorial, but there is a way to help ourselves - there is a way to slow down, there is a way to live from rest, to create an oasis in the chaos of what is often actually a desert life style.
It is a desert because the stimuli of modern life, the assault on the senses, and the rush, rob us of communion with God. I use the word desert because very little flourishes in the desert, and it is not easy to grow deep roots into our Father when we are constantly in motion. I say desert because in the midst of the apparent fullness of life, we can be quite empty, devoid of meaningful relationships, and God, let's be honest, doesn't really get a look in. I say desert because although our souls and bodies seem to flourish with the activity, our spirits are often dry and unwatered, malnourished and scorched by neglect, and very much diminished. We have forgotten who we are, and in so doing, we neglect to recognise our own yearning, the cry from our own spirits for deeper connection.
For you see, God is our source. He is the living water. He is our watering hole, our solace, our respite from the relentless heat of the midday sun. He is our hiding place. He is the cleft in the rock. He is our calm. He is our rest, and He says to us all, 'Be still and know that I AM God.'
How can we see Him, or hear Him when we are so noisy and so busy? His words are whispers. He longs to be sought after. He hides His presence in broad daylight, rather like Easter eggs placed strategically for a small child to hunt - neither is He hard to find, but we must want to look. God wants us to seek after Him.
In our quest for stillness, we must ask ourselves some questions - questions that demand honest, and soul searching answers - questions around identity. Why are we so busy? Why is there not enough time for quietness and rest? What drives us? Who am I?
Think of a 4 year old child, living very much in the present, with no concern for yesterday, or tomorrow. A small son or a daughter, totally dependent on the good father’s ability to provide and protect, to be a place of security and belonging, a place of affirmation and rest.
Jesus said, ‘unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom on God’. Matthew 18 v 3.
It is said that the kingdom of God is an upside kingdom - we must lay aside our worldly wisdom, our sophisticated ways, and embrace child likeness, in order to enter in. We can live in the present, we can cast all our cares on Jesus, we can receive His rest. We can be still.