I grew up hearing those words. It usually meant trouble, or that I was on the brink of it. Perhaps you think of a police officer making an arrest, as if he were saying to the culprit, “Don’t make another move or else!” I recently went in for an MRI and was warned to be still or else. One false move and the images would be blurred. Well, after forty minutes or so, I grew quite uncomfortable. Wait, scratch that, I was in excruciating pain. So I budged ever so slightly – just enough to alleviate the pressure – and to screw things up royally. As you may have guessed, I was subject to an additional forty minutes in the torture chamber.
Yet we read in the Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (See Psalm 46:10) This ‘be still’ doesn’t have an ‘or else’ attached to it. If it did it would be more in the lines of ‘or else you’re going to miss out on something wonderful.’ To better understand what the psalmist was saying, a brief word study is in order. The Hebrew term ‘raphah’ was used which means: to relax, let go or settle down. Friend, the Lord is telling us to chill out and send all cares His way. The only way this is possible is by knowing He is God. The Apostle Peter said something similar in his epistle:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
He invites you to not only cast some of your care upon Him, but all of it. Typically, we save the big stuff for God and keep the small stuff for ourselves. At least that’s how most worriers like me are. With the big stuff, we readily recognize that it’s beyond our control and that handing it over to God is the only reasonable option. Well, He wants it all! And He can handle things much better than we can. That’s why Peter reminds us to humble ourselves.
Pride keeps us from God’s presence. Humility leaves the door open. We can come no other way. The Lord promises to exalt us in return. That means He lift us up! All that stuff that weighs on us, all that crud that gets us down, He takes. Once the weight is off, He lifts us up. He’s there to lift our burdens. He’s there to lift our spirits. The only thing He requires of us is – we must be still, know that He is God and know that He cares. There’s one more thing we should know:
“You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
Did you notice how fear is described as bondage? By the way, fear doesn’t necessarily mean being frightened. Worry, stress and anxiety are also rooted in fear. They are all of the flesh and they all want to own and control us and keep us in shackles. This kind of bondage is not something that comes from God. He’s the bondage breaker.
That’s the good news of the gospel. We have been set free! No strings, no shackles! No longer are we slaves. We have received the Spirit of adoption. I rather like that. Adoption implies that a price was paid so that we could be God’s children. He paid the highest price imaginable. He paid in blood on the cross of Calvary. That’s the value He places on us. We’re everything to Him. And to us is given the awesome privilege of calling the almighty creator not just “Father” but “Abba, Father” or in the English vernacular “Daddy, Father.”
It’s important we recognize God as our father. That’s where the respect comes. But ‘rest’ comes from knowing Him as daddy. I think of those poor kids in the Disney classic Mary Poppins. Those rascals surely respected their father once he arrived on the scene. They stood up straight, addressed him properly then didn’t speak unless spoken to. It isn’t until the end of the story they get to know him as daddy. (Sorry for the spoil alert).
We don’t get to know our Heavenly Father until much later. We respect Him and address Him properly, but we’re not as close to Him as we should be. We’re not relaxed around Him. Until we get to know Him as Daddy, His presence doesn’t seem all that inviting. It’s thought of more as a reckoning place than a resting place. And “be still” takes on an entirely different meaning.
Without question, God is to be respected as a father, just as I want to be respected as a father by my children. When our girls were small and living at home, they needed to know better than to go toe-to-toe with me. I also wanted them to know how much I valued them and that I was always there for them. Coming home at the end of the day was one of my biggest pleasures back then. These two gorgeous darlings ran into my presence cheering, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” That’s a good sign. It’s not such a good sign when children run under their bed’s screaming, “Father’s home! Run for your life!” That’s the thing about fathers and daddies. One you run from; the other you run to. One demands respect while the other offers rest.
Back in those days I was usually in trouble a lot, so I didn’t come around much. I might visit Him on Sunday to pay my respects, but didn’t hang out long. If I needed God during the week, I could always call. Looking back, we had more of a business relationship. I preferred Him minding His own while I minded mine. Thankfully, I have since come to know Him as Daddy. Now I run to Him. I can relax around Him. I find rest in His presence.
I hope to encourage you in this way as well. Perhaps you know God as Father. Well, it’s important you do. He is worthy of such respect and we owe it to Him. We must never lose sight of His lordship over us. We answer to Him and not the other way around. But this does not diminish the role He wants in our lives as daddy.
He desires that we would delight in His presence, not flee from it. He says, “Come to me. Be still. Rest awhile.” That’s the true heart of God. He really does care for you. More than you’ll ever know.
Sunday Morning at 9:30 & 11:30am
Wednesday Evening at 7:00
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660