The Holy and Elusive Stillness | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
November 2014

The Holy and Elusive Stillness

By: Katherine Harris

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

I am not a “still” person. I am not even remotely a “still” person.

I wake up in the morning and turn on upbeat music while I’m getting ready. I blast the radio and sing along on the way to work. I work in an office filled with loud, silly people like myself. I go to campus and am surrounded by herds of fast, busy students who, like me, have places to go and things to do. When I come home, there’s usually music playing, or a television on, or a dog barking…

Point being, my day starts like a hurricane and usually doesn’t stop until I fall, exhausted, into bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. And I know it’s not just me. Most of my friends are the same way, and sometimes we even find ourselves in a boasting match, comparing how busy and frazzled we all are. We wear the dark circles under our eyes like a badge of honor, wielding our coffee like a sword. Bring it on.

This may be the young adult status quo, but it is not the example that Jesus set for us. In Mark 6:30, Jesus tells his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray, and Mark 1:35 tells us that Jesus started his day by getting up before anyone else and going to an isolated place to pray.

Jesus relished his quiet moments with God, yet many of us live our lives as if we are afraid of quiet moments. We have an aversion to, or even a fear of, stillness. We pride ourselves on overbooked schedules and how many all-nighters we can pull, pouring Red Bull into our coffee and falling asleep on our textbooks—the whole time thinking, “This is how it’s supposed to be. This is how I know I’m productive. The more I do, the more impressive I am.”

Jesus never measured his disciples, or us, based on productivity. He doesn’t have a quota, or a spreadsheet, or a planner filled with meetings and to-dos. God did not say, “Thou shalt not sleep.” In the Creation story, He set an entire day aside for the Sabbath, and instructed us to do more than merely observe this day of rest—we are to keep it holy. That is how valuable rest is to God; it is not a luxury, it is a holy necessity.

From Moses to Jesus, our loving Parent is asking us to take a break, slow down, and connect. It’s not just good for our sanity; it’s a necessary part of our relationship with God. How can we hear the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit in our hearts if we never stop to listen? How can we cultivate our faith, submit in worship, and maintain the lines of communication with God if we never turn the volume down on our daily lives?

So here is my challenge to you: set aside fifteen or twenty minutes a day to retreat to a quiet place and pray, read your Bible, or just clear your mind. Live out the example Jesus gave us. You may be surprised by just how centering the experience is.

Discussion questions: When was the last time you intentionally set aside time to pray and be in stillness with God? What do you think you could gain from taking this time in your daily life? How can you lighten your busy schedule and give yourself a little more room to breathe?

See more devotions from Katherine and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.