Be Still | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
April 2018

Be Still

By Rori Blakeney (SEJ)

“Be Still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
--Psalm 46:10

"Are you glued to the tube?" was a "come to" phrase for the first television addicted generation, my generation. Today, many people, especially teens, scroll through the day with their thumbs. Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston saw that with her own kids and learned that the average kid spends 6.5 hours a day looking at the screen with a six-second attention span.

With that kind of technological overload, it is difficult to be still.

In a 2015 Pew report, it was discovered that 24% of teens go online “almost constantly,” because of easy access to smartphones. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were the top three platforms among teens. The report also noted that girls dominate social media; boys are more likely to play video games. The user interfaces of the most successful apps are designed to be addicting through the use of repetitive motion.

With this kind of access to information and the world, it is difficult to be still.

Text messaging has replaced email, just as making a telephone call replaced the age-old art of writing a letter. Teens often type in short abbreviations in what appears to be a strange, unknown language. According to data collected by the researchers, teens, on average, send 30 text messages a day. The number of messages sent by girls is slightly higher, with an average of 40 text messages sent on a daily basis.

With this kind of nonstop communication, it is difficult to be still.

Yet, this is exactly what the God of the universe instructs us to do. God clearly demands that we be still in Psalm 46. It is not negotiable, it is not optional, it is a declaration.

So the question is, "how can we be still in such a world?"

Stillness requires a conscious choice. It is a deliberate decision. It is a spiritual practice grounded in the tradition of the earliest people of faith. God offers a model of stillness in the creation story. We read in Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV): "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

Stillness requires rest for the body, mind and soul. When we rest, we are able to withdraw from the world and its care. Stillness reminds us that all life has a rhythm. One such pattern requires us to work, play and rest.

Another writer creates a trinity which includes silence, stillness, and solitude.

Jim Baker reminds us that Jesus and his disciples made it their business to regularly withdraw from the crowds and from their work/ministry. Scripture shows us that Jesus would go to “the hills” or a “lonely place” or “the wilderness” or a “high mountain” or to the “seashore” or to the Garden of Gethsemane to be still. Therefore, just like Jesus, we must make time to be still.

Further Reading:

Disciplines of the Spirit by Howard Thurman
Meditations of the Heart by Howard Thurman
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster