Ever feel guilty when somebody quotes this Bible verse: "Be still, and know that I am God"? (Psalm 46:10).
I'll bet you'd like nothing better than to find a quiet time today. Maybe you are even planning for it. Wonderful things can happen in times of solitude, stillness, and silence before God. But "stillness" is hard to come by - and simply isn't available on some days or in certain life experiences.
There's precious little time for stillness when production deadlines are close. A report is due in three hours. An inspection is in progress. If you live in a big city, there are voices and horns. There is constant motion. Shared living space has someone else's music, someone else's TV, and someone else's voice. Where do you find God in all the noise?
Then there is "noise" of a different quality altogether. Pain from illness or injury is screaming at you. The pressure of finding a new job or putting life together after a death takes away your tranquil sense of God. Sadness, disappointment, and loss crash over you with the roar of an angry sea.
Strange as it may seem to say it, the greater need for some of us may be less for stillness than to learn how to hear God's voice smack in the middle of all the noise, chaotic activity, and disorienting trouble.
"They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits' end. 'Lord, help!' they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them" (Psalm 107:27-31 NLT).
Do you really think ours is the first generation of humankind to feel the pressure of noise, tension, and uncertainty? Of course it isn't. And the experience of some of those people can guide us in our times of stress.
Whoever the subjects of Psalm 107, they were reeling and staggering under their load. There was no serene stillness before God for them. To the contrary, they were "at their wits' end." So right in the middle of their frenzy and distress, "they cried out to the Lord in their trouble" - and God heard them.
If your life has more tumult than stillness, more crash than tranquility, God has not abandoned you. He beckons you to cry out to him, and he will show himself to you. Amidst the chaos, you will find him with you in the middle of it all.
Dr Rubel Shelly is Pastor of Woodmont Hills Church of Christ, Nashville and authors Fax of Life a weekly service. He is the author of more than 20 books, including several which have been translated into languages such as Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, French, and Russian. To subscribe to Fax of Life, send email tofaxOfLife@woodmont.org