Be still and know that I am God.
It sounds so easy. Eight simple words. But in a world that manufactures business and rewards it, finding a quiet place for the soul is about as easy as getting to the bottom of the Grand Canyon…in the dark!
That’s what my friend and I set out to do on a warm Arizona night back in our college days. Without a reservation for a campsite on the canyon floor, the only way we were going to experience the view from “down there” was to descend the Bright Angel Trail at midnight. We were assured that if we hiked down in the cover of night, and up and out before noon, the sixteen-mile round trip in the searing heat wouldn’t wipe us out.
Though not the canyon’s steepest trail, Bright Angel’s eight-mile journey still takes you almost a mile down on a skinny path. And, once we dropped below the South Rim we sank into the very definition of darkness. Not to mention, we were under constant “threat” from the wild donkeys we’d be warned about, and whatever else was out there beyond our flashlight’s beam.
Several hours later we arrived at the river’s edge and laid down on a sandy patch where the water bent. By now our eyes had remarkably adjusted to the dark, but we still could only hear the Colorado rushing by us. And, all we could think about was the tough return ascent ahead of us…and the fact that we’d only get a brief sleep before we’d be awakened by the dawn.
The only place to look was up, and when we did our minds were blown. Dripping overhead, the canopy of stars felt so close I literally reached up to touch them. Absent of so much as a remote glimmer of light, the heavens hung low, dazzling us with their brilliance.
We were exhausted, with the hardest part of our adventure still to come. But for a moment we were enraptured, and felt very near to God. We were swept up in the vast symphony of creation, the overture of God’s glory playing in the skies above.
It felt like the title of the piece the stars were playing was: Be still and know that I AM God.
As awesome as that moment was, fortunately we don’t have to make an excursion to some remote place to experience the rest of God. Wherever you are today, at the rewarding end of a long arduous stretch or still facing a steep and challenging climb, you can find that place of quiet trust in God that will still your heart and inject confidence into your circumstances. That’s what Sabbath is all about.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word SHABBAT, which means “to cease.” From this word we get the phrase, “be still.” But “cease” from what? Cease “striving,” as one translation puts it, and agree with God that He is God and we are not.
For us, Sabbath is more than just doing nothing, it is doing everything from a place of rest—an assurance that God is with us and in us, and that He is sufficient to accomplish all He has called us to do. Thus, God urged through the Psalmist, “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
We Are Called Into God’s “Already In Motion” Plans
Sabbath rest is remembering that God calls us into His plans, He doesn’t call us to create the plans and make them happen. At the outset, God invited Abraham into the unknown. But that invitation was not without a promise. God had been planning all along to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars, to make him the father of our faith. But God’s timing and God ways required Abraham to trust Him every step of the way.
At a point of desperation in old age, Abraham gave up on the promise and had a son by his maidservant, because his wife Sarah was unable to bear him the child that would accomplish God’s plan. Like us, Abraham became burdened with the weight of making the plan happen, when all God asked of him was to be available to what He was going to do.
God wants us to work with all our might as we participate in His plans. But Sabbath is about remembering that while we are responsible to step into the opportunities God sets before us, He is responsible for the outcomes. In the end, God did come through, and He did fulfill His promise for and through Abraham’s life.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11: 8-12.
What lessons can we learn from Abraham’s experience?
1. That we are called into the plans of God, not to create the plans of God.
2. That we can be confident in God’s ability to fulfill His promise, even when the circumstances look bleak.
3. We should expect that God will work in supernatural ways to achieve His plans.
4. We must set our gaze beyond today, and live for the great reward.
5. We must believe God is going to do what He says He will do, without or without us.
Faithful Is He Who Calls You, He Also Will Do It. 1 Thess. 5:24
I love the end of Psalm 46:10, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God says I will be two times, meaning His plans are going to come to pass. Thus, we can “be still,” assured that our great God will do everything that is in His heart to do.
What are you striving to make happen today that God alone can do?
What shortcuts are you taking to get the end result that God has promised?
What burden are you carrying, thinking that you have to accomplish it all on your own?
What gaps of faith have you created, forgetting to ask and expect God to come through in supernatural ways?
Has the view from “here” eclipsed the view of the great City of Rest God is leading us to?
Wherever there is an absence of rest, come to Jesus. His invitation is—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus believes in you and has done the work necessary to bring you from death to life. Jesus has made you righteous before God in Him. He also lives in you by faith, and makes His life available to you each step of the way. But to experience His power we must cease from our belief that we can do it on our own, believing that in rest before Him is our greatest strength.
So take a Selah moment. In the stillness, abandon those places where you feel the weight of determining the outcome. Confess your hope in the great and sovereign plans of God, plans for your good and His glory. Breathe in hope. Exhale fear. Repeat.
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Louie Giglio is the Visionary Architect and Director of the Passion Movement, comprised of Passion Conferences, Passion City Church and sixstepsrecords. Louie is part of our 2014 Global Leadership Summit Faculty. Learn more about Louie here.