BAM! I have many issues with this particular word. The first is if my students chose to begin an essay with an onomatopoeia like BAM, I would serve their heads on a proverbial platter…or at least use the red pen with abandon. Here are a few other issues I have with the word: BAM! Caleb, don’t swing the bat in the house. BAM! Ella, stop slamming the door. BAM! There is the end of a perfectly decent nap.
A nap was the reason BAM irked me Saturday. I was in my bedroom, shades drawn to create a dungeon effect, head covered with ice packs and pillows. Migraine. Need I say more? My restless slumber was cut off with a loud noise. I sighed. Nothing about my weekend had gone according to plan. As I stretched out on my bed, I was reminded God’s plans are often not my own. This did not make me smile.
As teachers, my husband and I went back to work today. When I reflected on the last eight weeks and felt like I hadn’t spent enough time with my children, I made plans for this past weekend. Plans to do all kinds of kid-centered, tedious-to-adults activities. Plans changed. Ella woke up Friday with a high fever, I remembered a Saturday morning meeting, and then a malicious migraine visited me to stay. I was so frustrated and felt completely defeated. My plans lay in tatters.
I lied in bed wide-awake Saturday afternoon just fussin’ at God for the change in my schedule. It was at that moment God whispered in my ear, “Be still and know I am God.” Now, the irony of this was not lost on me. First of all, this Bible verse (Psalm 46:10a) has irked and plagued me throughout my Christian walk. How in the world am I supposed to be still? I am a woman in the 21st century. We seldom are able to be still. Even our bathrooms trips seem to be interrupted. Being still is something I have never done well. I decided to do some digging. What did God mean by telling us to be still. What I discovered was really interesting and maybe even more difficult to accomplish than stillness.
I don’t believe our 21st century definition of be still is exactly what God intended for us in Psalms. You see, the word still comes from the Hebrew verb rapha which actually means, “to be weak, to let go, to release.” Strange. I don’t see anything within that translation that comes close to saying “stop what you’re doing, drop everything, don’t even think.” Rather, God is telling us to surrender. Throw in the towel. Wave the white flag. In fact the Holman Christian Standard version of the Bible translates the verse in this way: “Stop your fighting—and know that I am God…”
This leads me to ask how many times do I fight God when things don’t go my way? Surrender is not pretty. Especially when you’re me. Surrender usually involves an ugly temper tantrum. I do not handle change well, and a change in plans usually evokes dangerous anxiety levels. I want my way. And I struggle—a lot—when the direction shifts. If I had my way, I would not be a working mom. If I had my way, I would have moved to Colorado years ago. If I had my way, I would be skinny. If I had my way, If I had my way, Oh…if only I had my way!! I could go on forever. You see, I can stamp my feet with the best of three-year-olds.
There are many people of faith I admire greatly. These are the ones able to take a change in plans with great class and sophistication. They immediately trust that God’s is in control. I wish I was better at this. Instead, I get angry. I shake my fist at God and inwardly scream, “Why?” Fortunately I am in love with a merciful Savior who knows me better than I know myself. He knows I need to be reminded. I need to be reminded that He IS God…And the only way I can remember this cornerstone of my faith is to stop fighting. To wave my white flag. To surrender.
When the Lord of heaven and earth says, “Be still and know that I am God,” He is whispering in my ear, Stop fighting and know. Stop fighting me, Heather, and KNOW I am God. Give up, my child. My plans are so much bigger than you. You may never know why my plans are different, but you must remember I am God. I love you. I know what I am doing. I am God. Can you hear Him speak those same words to you? Do you know what it’s like to surrender? To give in and know that He is God? I wish I could say this was easy for me. It’s not.
Even today, I struggled with the plans God had for me. I stamped my feet and fussed all morning. But I serve a God that is bigger than my temper tantrums. He whispered all the way home, “Stop fighting, dear child, and know I am God.” I finally stopped fighting. I surrendered to the knowledge God knows what He is doing. Will I ever understand why He changed my plans today? This past weekend? Maybe not. But I don’t think that is His point.
His point, my friends, I just need to stop fighting Him and listen…When I do, I realize the joy is in the surrender. The joy is in the abandon. The joy is in knowing He…Is…God…