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“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

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A devotional from Lewis Galloway

March 24, 2020

One of the hardest things to do in a crisis is to be still! As a confirmed extrovert, I have never found, even in easy times, stillness and quiet to come easily.  Being told to be still is a bit like being told to calm down when the mind, heart and body are on fire with anxiety.  

The words of W. B. Yeats, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world… (The Second Coming)” fit our time. The lives of loved ones are threatened by a deadly virus; jobs are lost; medical supplies for courageous workers are scarce; loneliness overtakes the soul; children are out of school; residents of nursing homes, prisons and shelters face great risk; businesses are shut down; stores are shuttered; the future is uncertain; and global recession looms on the horizon. Amid the crisis and chaos, the confusion and clamor, we hear those words again, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  I would laugh, or protest, or run away, except I remember who said it.  It is not a 24/7 News Commentator, not the head of CDC, and not even the President.  The Lord spoke to a terrified people under attack, “Be still, and know that I am God!” 

Even when it may feel like the certainties of life are melting away and the very ground upon which we stand is shaken, we discover something that we may have taken for granted or perhaps never known.  In spite of all my resistance, I find those words strangely calming. God is in our midst like a mountain stream watering the dry land or like a powerful wind greater than all the forces and dangers that would destroy life.  God is in our midst. Come what may, we shall not be moved.  

I look around and see God in the courage of parents who nurture faith and teach selflessness and compassion to children at home; I see God in those who make phone calls to the homebound and deliver food to the hungry; I see God in those who make music through social media and on apartment balconies; I see God in health care workers and public servants who risk their own lives to save the lives of others; I see God in those who reconcile with old enemies; I see God in those who pray and in those who join in virtual worship; I see God in these beautiful mountains surrounding Montreat that will one day be filled again with the sounds of joy and laughter.  

As I seek stillness in disruption, I am guided by the words and music of my favorite hymn, O God Beyond All Praising.  The majesty of the tune THAXTED, drawn from Gustave Holst’s The Planets, lifts the troubled soul to see God’s glory all around us: 

O God beyond all praising,
we worship you today
and sing the love amazing
that songs cannot repay…

The words by Michael Perry lead us to hope and trust in God who holds the future, our future, in the divine and loving hands. 

…and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we’ll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still.

Lewis F. Galloway