What heights of love, what depths of peace
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
-“In Christ Alone”
Tonight I intentionally sat in silence for the first time in months. And let me tell you, it was a challenge. Lately, I’ve been feeling convicted to curtail the constant busyness inside my head and still my mind before the Lord. As I sat in one of the pews in one of the chapels on one of the many Christian college campuses in Southern California, I began to question what it really means to be still before the Lord.
In the ten measly minutes I sat there, a lot happened. Shadows and headlights flickered across blurred window pains. Feet scuffled outside and cars passed. A car door slammed somewhere in the distance. In ten measly minutes, the Spirit revealed one small phrase pregnant with meaning: cease your striving. All it took was ten brief minutes of solitude and silence for me to realize that the world continues to revolve even when my mind does not.
This epiphany is both a respite and a blow to my pride. The realization that the happenings of the world are in no way contingent upon me is somehow staggering, disheartening, humbling. Above all, it’s a huge relief.
I have often heard people say things like, “I thank God that He gave me a small part in His bigger plan.” Usually, the emphasis in this statement is that God chose to include us in His plan even though He very well could have gotten on without us.
I can definitely get on board with this sentiment, but I want to highlight a slightly different aspect of the phrase—our smallness. Yes, I am beyond grateful and humbled that God chose to give me a role in His story. However, I am even more grateful that my role is just that: small. The wind and waves don’t answer to my beck and call (Psalm 97). I cannot control who thrives on this earth and who fails (Luke 1). I cannot discern anyone’s thoughts from afar. I am not fully acquainted with the ways of the world (Psalm 139). In short, I am not God.
Although it is tempting to be overcome with frustration and stress by this lack of control, I encourage anyone reading this today to thank God for your limitations. Thank Him for your lack of strength, your lack of knowledge, your lack of ability. Thank Him that despite these limitations, He has given you everything you need to get through the day. Thank Him that the world does not depend on your striving.
If this seems counterintuitive to you (as it often does to me) it probably means you have spent a little too much time striving and not enough time resting and trusting. It also probably means you are human.
Be still before the Lord today and embrace the paradox of freedom through your limitation. Cease your striving and experience the peace of God—even if you only have ten measly minutes.