Psalm 46:8-11 (NKJV) 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
We have been looking at the way we wait on the Lord this week. During the course of this study, we have pointed out that waiting for God and waiting on God mean essentially the same thing. We have also learned that the term waiting on God adds the idea of serving and listening. When we wait on God, we renew or exchange our strength with his. We literally bypass our strength and tap into his strength. How then do we wait on God?
We have looked at a number of definitions for waiting and aspects of how we wait on God and it has boiled down to one basic idea. To wait on the Lord effectively requires that we wait in relationship. There is no formula for waiting. There are no steps that we can take that ensure we will be successful. To wait on God we must believe that He loves us and that he will do what we need.
I want to restate a very important key that will enable us to wait. We must realize that waiting on God is not something we do when there is a crisis or a need for information alone. We must make waiting on the Lord a lifestyle. If we do not, when we come to a time when waiting is mandatory it will be awkward, frightening and difficult. Although we can no more limit this to a formula than we can limit love in marriage to a formula, there are some things we can do that will help.
The first involves today’s scripture. We usually quote verse 10 alone, but I wanted to put this verse in context. Verse 10 tells us to be still so that we may know that the Lord is truly God. Yesterday’s verse from Isaiah 41:1 connects the idea of silence with the renewing of strength in Isaiah 40:31. There is something about silence or quietness and waiting.
I grew up Catholic and later became a Baptist. When I was 17, I was filled with the Holy Spirit. For me this opened the door to another dimension of Christianity with which I was unfamiliar. Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity tend to emphasize the experiential aspect of Christianity far more than other branches do. As a Catholic, when I went to church all was quiet. I remember hearing muted coughs in the congregation and the echoes created by any movement in the sanctuary. People spoke in hushed whispers except for the patterned responses dictated by the form of the mass.
The Baptist church was less quiet than the Catholic Church I went to as a child. We sang congregational hymns and we might occasionally say “Amen.” We recited the Lord ’s Prayer aloud and we might greet one another, but quietness was still a major sense of what was appropriate in church just as it was in the Catholic Church.
If you come to Living Word Christian Center in Greene, NY today, quiet is not how you would describe us. We sing loudly, we shout to the Lord with a voice of triumph. We greet one another with no sense of a need for hushed whispers, but openly and enthusiastically. The preacher, usually me, tends to be a little loud and the congregation will shout amen or clap in response to points that bless them. We do, at times, get quiet in worship, but the proportions between quiet and shouting are just the opposite to the other churches of which I have been a member.
Personally, I like the way we are now as opposed to the Catholic Church. However, I think that the balance has yet to be reached. I believe the bible clearly speaks of shouting, singing and dancing. I believe that too much quiet tends to drain the vibrancy from our relationship with God. I believe we should even shout and rejoice in our private time. Where there is no shout there is usually no victory. Nevertheless, the bible is just as clear about a need for stillness. Today’s verse says that when we are still, we will know that he is God.
Stillness or quiet is a key component of waiting on God. We can go back to our waiter illustration. A waiter cannot hear the order of the customer if he or she does not spend some time listening. We cannot hear God if we do not listen to him. We have the sense that our prayer time must be filled with our voice. If I am not talking, I am not praying. If you treat communication with your husband or wife in the same way, your marriage is going to have a problem.
Communication is a two way street. If I do all the talking and God cannot “get in a word edgewise,” we are not communicating. I do not know about you, but I suspect God has much more of value to say than I do. As I said yesterday, there is a reality to simply sharing our heart with the Lord. Sometimes we just need to unburden ourselves. However, that is for our benefit. God does not need our insight into the situation. When we ask God for a solution, we need to let him speak.
You may say, “But pastor I try and I cannot hear him.” Hearing him takes time and practice. God is not a physical being. He does not speak into our physical ears. He speaks to our spirit and we are not used to listening at that level. We must learn to hear our spirit. One of the most important things we must learn is how to quiet our soul, our mind, so that we can hear the voice of our spirit.
When the prophet Elijah was hiding in a cave, God let him know that he was going to speak to him. An earthquake, a fire and a rushing mighty wind came upon the cave in succession but Elijah did not move. He knew that God was not going to speak through any of those things. Finally, there was a still small voice. Immediately, Elijah went to the entrance of the cave because he knew that was the real voice of God. Most of the time we expect the earthquake, fire or rushing mighty wind to be how God speaks to us, but his voice is none of these things. We want the “supernatural manifestation,” but his voice is heard deep in our spirit in the place of stillness.
Be still and know that he is God. In our culture, this is difficult. We are a society of noise. “Dead air” is a broadcast term that means the station is not sending anything over the airways when they should be. We fear “dead air.” We fear stillness. However, if we never cultivate stillness how will we hear the still small voice of God?
Stillness in our relationship with the Lord is not just about hearing his voice. Psalm 46 says that in stillness we will know that he is God. We come to know him in times of stillness. When I am traveling for ministry and I find myself in a car with someone I do not know, I feel compelled to talk. When I am traveling with my wife, we spend hours sometimes saying nothing. We are in close proximity but we do not feel the need to talk. I am not talking about a lack of communication. I am talking about a communication deeper than words.
In Psalm 46:8 God tells us to come and behold his works. In Verse 11, he assures us that he is with us. In quieting our mind, we come to a place where we begin to see what he has done in our lives. We get our focus off what we need and onto whom he is and how much he has blessed us. We come to realize that he really is with us whether we are in a trial or just in everyday life. In stillness, we know him. When we know him, we can wait for him as long as we must. If we know him, we know he will never fail us. We know he will never leave us and he will never forsake us.