"Be still, and know that I am God"
I've always read this verse as two commands, given to us from God.
1. To be still
2. To know that He is God
But while studying the scriptures recently, I had the understanding that perhaps it is actually more a statement of "cause and effect".
We live in a frantic-paced world -- unique to any time in history. Media of all kinds competes for our constant attention. We have fast food, instant messaging, rapid trasit, and on-demand information and entertainment. With the touch of a button we can communicate instantly with the other side of the globe. We're offered every magic solution to lose weight now, get rich quick, and swallow this pill for an instant fix. Many of us hit the floor running in the morning and drop into bed exhausted at night. How can we come to know God? It's difficult to feel peace at such a pace.
Yet God speaks to us in "a still small voice". (1 King's 19:12) How can we hear a still, small voice through the commotion and attention demand of cell phones, TV's, computers, MP3 players, ear buds, texting, and twittering? Those things are not necessarily bad, if they are used wisely. Any one of them could be used destructively - or as a tool to do good. It can be a challenge to know when even "good" is no longer good because it takes the place of "better". With all that distraction, we can lose sight of the real purpose of our lives.
This life is a time to prepare to meet God. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way. He taught His gospel and set the perfect example, so we could know how He wanted us to live. But how can we focus on Him, and becoming like Him, when all these things of the world are consuming our time and attention?
We have to plan some time for "listening" to His voice. I hear myself say that my highest priority is to serve and obey God, and yet sometimes realize that I have planned and scheduled everything except time for Him. We "listen" to His voice when we study His words written by Holy prophets. We "listen" for His voice when we allow some quite time to ponder. I learn the most from the scriptures when I ponder, or sit and think about what I just read. The "whisperings" of the Spirit come to me when I am driving with the radio off, or walking through the woods, or stay on my knees for a little while after talking to Him - just "listening".
It seems so easy to fill our time with appointments, to-do-lists, meetings, and schedules. I have learned to schedule a set time to read, study, pray and ponder. And amazingly enough, when I do, the day seems less stressful and I feel more productive. The demands of daily life feel lighter, and I enjoy all that I accomplish, more than feel like a slave to it. A wise man named Neal A. Maxwell said, when we "plan some time for contemplation and renewal, we will feel drawn to our work instead of driven to it." Having had this experience, you would think that I would live this way every day! I don't. It's an on-going effort to discipline myself and not always give the "squeaky wheels" all the grease!
In all our talk about getting prepared for the events that may come in our lives, there is no greater perspective to keep focused on, or event to prepare for, than the return of our Savior and our reunion with God.
(Painting by Simon Dewey)