Last week I was at home cooking dinner while a summer storm brewed outside my kitchen window. Usually I love thunderstorms, but this particular storm was so strong that it only took a few minutes before we lost power. With the lights off and the wifi down, I was forced to sit and simply be still. As I watched the storm rage outside, it left me in awe of God’s great strength, and I was grateful that the lack of power inside had forced me into stillness so that I could truly appreciate the display of power outside. It reminded me how often it takes a storm in my life (physically and metaphorically) to force me into stillness. While most days I make time to read my Bible and journal my prayers to the Lord, rarely do I make time to simply sit still in His presence and consider His greatness. And yet, when the storms come, I’m always reminded of the importance of practicing stillness before the Lord on the sunny days of life as well.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to put stillness aside and prioritize the wrong things. In my own life, the two biggest factors for neglecting the practice of stillness is my love of productivity and my desire for connectivity. Over and over again I’ve seen those two things become the biggest distractions for me in following the commandment of God to be still.
When it comes to productivity, I’ve allowed myself to believe that stillness is the same thing as idleness, but that’s a lie. Stillness is not the enemy of productivity—idleness is. While idleness leads to laziness, learning the practice of stillness and peace of mind is the very thing that allows me to be my most productive self for the glory of God. So when my pursuit of productivity is out of check and I stop prioritizing stillness, I’m no longer operating in the Spirit but out of my own flesh, and I miss out on living in the power that raised Christ from the dead (Gal. 5:16–17; Rom. 8:11). God has given you enough time every day to do everything He has called you to do, and He has called you to be still. So don’t let your thirst for productivity tell you to feel guilty for practicing stillness. Apart from being still in the presence of the Lord, we’ll never be able to accomplish all that He’s called us to accomplish.
And just like stillness isn’t the same thing as idleness, it’s also not the same thing as loneliness. So often, my desire for connection leads me to avoid the practice of stillness because of a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I love checking Instagram, sending GIFs, and spending hours on the phone with my long-distance friends. Even when I am physically still, I rob myself of true stillness by mindlessly scrolling in an effort to be in the know. But when I prioritize connectivity over stillness, I’m missing out on the most important connection in my life—Jesus. No number of friends and followers will ever satisfy my desire for connection; only Jesus can do that. So while social connectivity is good, don’t let it distract you from the one, true, life-giving connection. The voice of God comes in a still, small whisper and it’s only in the stillness of His presence that I can find the connection I’m longing for (1 Kings 19).
Ultimately, when productivity is the goal, stillness won’t be valued, and when connectivity is the goal, stillness won’t be practiced. But when holiness is the goal, stillness becomes crucial.
While productivity and connectivity are both valuable, we cannot allow them to become distractions from the spiritual discipline of stillness or we will fall behind in our pursuit of holiness as women of God. In order to pursue holiness, we have to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit and we cannot live in the power of the Spirit if we are striving in our own power. Being still is not just a physical act, but also a spiritual one of refusing to strive in our own power. In fact, in Psalm 46:10, “be still” means “cease striving.”
So choose today to stop striving in productivity or connectivity, or whatever is stopping you from practicing stillness. Let stillness in the presence of the Lord be your shelter of peace in the storm and your shade in the sunshine.