Footsteps in Faith: Life’s hardships can always teach you to be still, and know God

| April 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Maj.) David Shoffner
25th Infantry Division

Several weeks ago, following chapel service, I made my way to the restroom and, upon entering, noticed a small decorative plaque hanging on the wall. 

SchoffnerI’m sure the plaque has been there forever, and I’m also sure that I have looked at it several hundred times before … but on that day, I read the passage: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

The message was embroidered in bright colors on the plaque’s tan background, and I found myself truly pondering its meaning. 

Although this passage is very familiar to me, it hit me with new impact. The first idea that came to me was how foreign a concept stillness has been to my family. 

I have three wonderful and active sons: Elijah, 15; Jonathan, 16; and David II, 21, who just left for college in Canada. In addition, my lovely wife, Kim, and I live fairly busy lives. She is a full-time law student at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and I am currently serving as the deputy division chaplain, as well as pastoring a chapel service. 

The second idea that came to me was a little deeper, and had to do with perception. Often, when we read the Scripture, we sometimes read something into it that really isn’t there. This passage, I believe, is a perfect example of doing just that. 

You see, many of us tend to read this verse as if it is saying, “Be still, because I am God,” as if the psalmist were admonishing us that we should be reverently at pause before God. 

Although this is a perfectly legitimate viewpoint, that God’s awe-inspiring presence and character should cause us to be still, that is quite simply not what this verse says. 

No, this verse is more relational, telling us that if we will be still, we can know God. We can sense his presence, hear his voice, see what he is doing in the world around us, and appreciate the beauty of his creation. 

The truth is that the more complicated our lives are, the greater the need is for us to be still. The rush of our daily lives often crowds out the time we have for God. 

As with many lessons in my life, God had to teach me this the hard way. 

For several years now I have had a developing case of high blood pressure. I had done a fairly good job of ignoring it or convincing myself that it really was not a big deal. Then over the past year, it became obvious that my health was a big deal as the numbers simply grew too large for me to continue to ignore. I shared results with my wife and one of my fellow chaplains, and both of them kept after me until I agreed to see my doctor and take medication. 

Part of the routine that developed out of this condition was for me to sit in my room in an easy chair for two or three minutes, breathe deeply and then take my blood pressure reading.

Aside from forcing me into stillness, my health condition has also led to other changes in my life. In the evenings, for example, while walking our beloved golden retriever, Winston, I have begun to pay more attention to the night sky and to contemplate the stillness of the star-filled evening heavens. 

These moments have become more common and inviting. As a result, this new stillness is working wonders on my soul. I now feel closer to the Lord, and more sure of what is important and what is not. The odd thing is that when I take personal inventory, I realize that my life has actually become more complicated since I began practicing stillness. 

But unlike before, I find myself more confident that God is with me in the midst of all that is going on. Believing this, I now know that if I will just be still, I will blessed with his presence, his power and his direction.

Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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