Be Still

According to recent studies the average iPhone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day. [1]

Research shows each user to be on his or her phone for an average of four hours and 25 minutes each day. [2]

With all of our digital consumption and our attention given to our smart phones, our actual attention span is dropping. According to an article from Time Magazine, our average attention span in the year 2,000 was 12 seconds. Since the digital revolution our attention span has decreased by four seconds, leaving us at an average of eight seconds — one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. [3]

So, can we just be honest?

We are distracted.

We are hurried.

We are tired.

And we’re only ramping up.

We run from appointment to appointment, meeting to meeting, the gym to the office to the little league practice field, to the fast food restaurant, and just when we finally start to slow down and give our minds a minute to settle, we turn on Netflix or scroll through social media until we finally fall asleep.

And it’s not just those in the workplace or with busy family schedules. I have heard students in our church say that silence frightens them. To slow down and be quiet is to invite anxiety, loneliness, and even depression.

You may relate. How many friends do you know who can sit in silence for 10 minutes? How many of you have to have something making noise in order to fall sleep like box fans, white-noise apps, or ceiling fans?

We can’t even bear stillness and silence in our subconscious.

Meanwhile, the Psalmist writes:

“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

There’s a glaring contradiction between the unhurried, undistracted life of presence Scripture calls us to live, and the life we actually live in 21st century America.

But, for many of us, this is where the excuses start to flow.

The writers of the Bible had no idea what it would be like to live in today’s fast paced world.
Silence and stillness sound great, but you don’t know the kind of life I live, and the kind of pressures being put on me.

Things are different these days, “the times, they are a-changin’,” and if we don’t change with them we’ll fall behind.

If that’s you, I hear you. And I feel those same emotions. And, if you think for a minute that things today are frenetic and fast paced, and that being still and silent before the Lord is harder now than ever… you’d be right.

However, that doesn’t mean that stillness before God is a rhythm that is completely out of reach.

Here are some of the other sentiments in that same Psalm:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. – Psalm 46:1-3

And again,

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. – Psalm 46:6-7

The Psalmist seems to describe a terrifying reality of war, natural disaster, political unrest, and near-apocalyptic global events, and a stillness, rest, and peace in the God who is present, in control, and still worthy of attention and affection amidst the chaos.

What am I getting at?

I’m saying that the invitation is not to ignore the busyness, hurry, worry, and turbulence of life, but to find moments of stillness and silence in the midst of them.

Small daily disciplines of silence can actually restructure the pathways in our brain to slow down and be still throughout the rest of our day.

So how do we do that?

As a church we use the acronym B.R.E.A.D. as a tool to prayerfully encounter God through the scriptures.

And this acronym begins with B – Be Still.

Silence and solitude are not an additive to a busy life in order to make it easier. They are a lifeline to cling to in order to flourish.

We know digital escapism isn’t the answer.

We’re learning that more work, events, or distractions aren’t the solution.

But maybe, just maybe, five minutes of “being still and knowing [he is] God,” in the morning could actually start to change the way we live the other 1,435 minutes of our day.

Maybe, just maybe, 10 minutes of breathing deep and being quiet before we look at our smart phones could actually change the pathways of our psychological condition.

Maybe, just maybe being still and silent for 15 minutes before the kids wake up and the chaos of the day begins could change the way we read the Bible, change the way we encounter God, and even change the way we live.

“Be still and know that I am God.”



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Tanner Smith
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