Still Waters

During the rush and shove of the holidays, it’s good to remember that stillness is a biblical virtue, and it’s necessary for our well-being. This morning I rose before dawn, got a cup of coffee, and sat down to watch the early news. When the remote control didn’t work, I was rather pleased. I sat by the fire, sipped my coffee, and enjoyed the quiet.

Our English word noise actually comes from the Latin word noxia, which means injury or hurt. The connection is easy to see. Noise pollution affects our physical and mental well-being, and it’s often detrimental to our spiritual health. In earlier eras, we had the whinnying of a horse; now it’s the honking of horns. Once it was the symphony of crickets; now it’s the blasting of television. Once it was the rooster’s crow; now it’s the shriek of an alarm clock. Once it was lowing of cattle; now it’s the roar of trucks and jetliners.

“Be still and know that I am God,” commanded the Lord in Psalm 46; “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

When the disciples were terrified on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said: “Peace, be still.” He wasn’t just addressing the winds and waves, but the men in the boat—and you and me. We shouldn’t fall into panic or flurry; we should fall into stillness. Moses told the frantic Israelites at the Red Sea, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). When the Moabite maiden, Ruth, was concerned for her future, Naomi advised, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out” (Ruth 3:18).

When King Jehoshaphat and the Judeans were facing annihilation from the combined armies of their enemies, the Lord told them, “Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (1 Chronicles 10:17). During Ezra’s conference in Nehemiah 8:10-11, the Levites quieted the people, telling them, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength…. Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” Job’s friends advised him, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14). The Psalms say, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still…. Put your trust in the Lord…. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother” (Psalm 4:4-5 and 131:2).

Today remember this great promise from Isaiah: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

PS – The above painting of Mabry Mill in Virginia hangs on my wall to remind me of this very thing. It was painted by Ken Simmelink. You can check out his other paintings at