Be Still

By Dr. Jeff Marx – Head of School

Be Still

Psalm 46:10

For many of us, solitude and silence may seem foreign, unattainable, perhaps even frightening because we so rarely find ourselves there. Yet physically, mentally, and spiritually, we need rest! We yearn to be still and know that (He is) God.

I recently enjoyed reading Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transformative Presence. I’d like to share the book, but rather than summarize it, I provide samples of her ideas below; I hope you find them insightful.

In Christ,

Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School

“It seems, no matter how well I understand the necessity of solitude, no matter how much I feel drawn to it, no matter how well I plan for it, there are forces working against it both externally and internally.” (p. 44)

“Silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life. It reminds us of death, which will cut us off from this world and leave only us and God. And in the quiet, what if there turns out to be very little between us and God?” (Quoted from Dallas Willard, p. 48)

Within solitude, there is an invitation: “the invitation to let go and allow God to be in control.” (p. 49)

But, what if he doesn’t show up for me? (in the way I want him to show up?)

In solitude with God…“There is nothing I can do to control the outcomes. There is nothing I can do to force your response or make your response what I want it to be. All I can do is put myself out there and wait.” (p. 50)

“Solitude gives us the opportunity to rest in God.” (p. 62, see Psalm 131:2)

Solitude need not be static! “Physical exercise releases endorphins that can soothe emotions, ease pain and elevate our mood.” (p. 66) 

“When we sit in the light of the moon, we don’t try to figure it out, explain it, or force it to be anything other than what it is. We just enjoy sitting in the midst of it.

It is the same with God.” (p. 75)

The following prayer, included in Barton’s book, was taken from Guerillas of Grace by Ted Loter.

O God, gather me now
to be with you
as you are with me.
Soothe my tiredness, 
curb my aimlessness,
relieve my compulsiveness,
let me be easy for a moment.

O Lord, release me
from the fears and guilts
which grip me so tightly;
from the expectations and opinions
which I so tightly grip,
that I may be open
to receiving what you give,
to risking something genuinely new,
to learning something refreshingly different.

O God, gather me
to be with you
as you are with me.