My Great Aunt Ruth was known in our family for many things — her hospitality, her homemade biscuits, her prayers before meals (which often included singing the doxology), just to name a few. But what we most remember is her frequent refrain, “Be still.”
It was shorthand for “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a). Aunt Ruth would say this when one of us was frantic, agitated, or clearly upset about something. It was a very effective tactic for dealing with young grandchildren when they started whining or bickering. It worked just as well with stressed out adults facing tough decisions or even ordinary problems, as we all do. Being still meant settling down to listen for God’s voice and discern God’s will.
Interestingly, the context of Psalm 46 is war. God delivers the Israelites when Jerusalem is under invasion. The psalmist begins by affirming that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He continues to describe God’s mighty hand in battle, breaking the bow and shattering the spear. By the time we get to verse 10, God’s directive to be still is more of a wake-up call to God’s power than a gentle call to rest.
Yet, the verse functions as both — a lesson I learned from Aunt Ruth. When I get spun up about something, her reminder to be still is an assurance that God is involved. It’s not all up to me, which is a truth worth resting in.
So, I offer a mediation that I hope allows you to rest in God’s sovereignty and love, especially in moments of overwhelm or when you just simply need to take a break.
Take a deep breath at the outset and then again between each line.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.