Two or three weeks ago, on a Sunday, I was having one of those days when my mind kept going to some incidents in our past…….hurtful, unresolved affairs that I find myself dwelling upon more often than I should. Much in the same way that I need to redirect Aaron on a bad day, I find myself at these times in need of redirection. But when it’s me trying to redirect me, it just sometimes doesn’t work out so well. If I’m not careful, I will become mired in my negative thoughts and in re-living all the events and feelings once again. All the hurt and pain come bubbling up to the surface, not benefiting me one bit and not at all what the Lord wants me to be doing.
On this particular Sunday, as soon as my mind started down that familiar path, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart in such a clear way that it was almost as if I heard an audible voice. He spoke God’s Word to me……..one simple verse that happens to be my mother’s favorite verse. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a) This verse kept going through my mind on that early Sunday afternoon. As soon as I could, I went to the desk where I keep my Bible and my study books. I looked up the word “still” and I was very blessed by what I found.
I know that my NIV Bible says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” That’s a correct translation of the phrase “be still.” But what I saw first as I looked in my concordance under “still” was the word “slacken.” Instantly my mind went to the game I played many times on the playground at Knob Elementary School when I was a young girl. We would take a rope and choose teams, and then play Tug of War. We loved that game! Each of us would take the rope and then pull with all our might against the pulling of the opposite team. We were determined to win, and the only way to do it was to keep pulling and tugging. Letting go or letting up was not an option if we wanted the victory.
The tug of war I find myself in now, though, is quite different than the game I played as a child. I am actually in a tug of war with God whenever I pick up that rope of my hurts, curl my fingers around the rough rope, and beginning pulling. But there is no winning for me as I pull with all my might. The more I think of my hurts, the harder I pull on that rope……….and in the process, the more defeated I am actually becoming. God is on the other side of the rope, holding on with all His power………just waiting for me to slacken my end…….to quit struggling and pulling in this losing game.
In my Bible I have a note by Psalm 46:10. I have written: “Take your hands off.” Yes, there it is again…….that reminder to slacken the rope……….to loosen my grip…….to take my hands off. And there is God, on the other side of the rope, waiting to pull me to Himself and to take me in His arms, reminding me of His might and His love.
I wish I learned these lessons the first time, but I don’t. I may slacken my grip on my thoughts and let God take over, but don’t you know it’s not long before I repeat the process…………over and over again. Every time I start reviewing those hurts, I am picking up the rope. Every time I start worrying about my children, I have bent over and am putting that rope in my hands. Every time I become focused on the culture and the political climate, worrying about where it will all lead, I am curling my fingers once again around that rope. Every time I question why God isn’t seeming to answer my prayers, I am jamming my feet into the ground and getting ready to pull.
What God wants me to do, however, is just the opposite. When the worries and the thoughts and the hurts crowd my brain, and I bend over to pick up that rope, He wants me to instead just let it slacken. Ease my grip, let the rope fall, and run to Him in prayer and reading His Word and dwelling on Who I know that He is.
This verse says, “Be still (slacken that rope!) and know that I am God.” That’s all. Know that He is God. That’s all I need to know………and that’s plenty, if I really stop to think about it. In the knowing comes the trusting, because I do know that He can be trusted with all my worries and hurts and pains. It’s time for me to put that trust into daily practice……..to slacken my hold on that rope………to take my hands off……..and let God win.
And in the long run, when God wins, I win. Every time.