The sky is clear this morning as the sun pokes its head over the horizon illuminating everything it touches with an ethereal glow. The birds, who began their morning songs at the first glimpse of light, are visible now. The hummingbirds are my favorite, flitting to and fro in a sort of happy morning dance. They hover effortlessly near our hummingbird feeder, their wings a constant blur, stopping for but a moment to drink the sugary nectar from the feeder. Then they are off again continuing their dance and returning every few minutes for another sugary drink.
These diminutive creatures almost never stop. They swoop and dive and chase each other all through the plants and trees in our yard. Yet they stop regularly to drink from our feeder. Even their wings cease while they are drinking. This pattern continues throughout the day. Swoop, dive, chase, be still, and drink- over and over until night falls, and I can no longer see them.
Even the hummingbirds know how to be still.
We too are in perpetual motion. Before this season of social distancing we would flit to and fro from one thing to another- this practice, that meeting, this errand, that problem to solve, barely stopping to eat. But even now without all the expectations on our time, we still find ourselves in a state of near constant motion, flitting from one thing to another- checking Instagram, scrolling through Facebook, reading the news, cleaning, working online, teaching our kids, organizing, binge-watching shows, playing video games, searching for toilet paper or now meat. We never stop. And as a consequence, our minds never stop either.
Our minds are conditioned to what they consume. And if what we consume is constant, fast-paced, and instantaneous, then our minds mirror that pace, and unlike the hummingbirds in my yard, our minds struggle to even stop to take a drink.
Let’s consider the words of Psalm 46:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with tumult. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’ The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
-Psalm 46:1-11 NRSV
God is our refuge, our safe place, our place of trust and hope. When our world is spinning out of control and when everything is falling into place, he is our refuge. Yet we spend most of our time flitting about, filling our time and spending our energy barely acknowledging God’s presence with us.
The psalmist does not mince words. Be still. Know God is God. Exalt him. Trust him as our refuge. Recognize his presence with us.
This is difficult to do if we are in constant motion and our minds are unceasingly inundated with fast-paced, instantaneous information and entertainment. Being still requires us to stop our striving, stop our mindless consuming, and dwell in God’s presence allowing him to rewire our minds to his pace and attune our hearts to his voice.
Being still takes time. Rewiring our minds is not instantaneous. And we will most likely discover we must cease an activity we enjoy. But allowing our minds to be conditioned and attuned to God’s voice is far greater than any amount of information or activity and always worth the sacrifice.
Let us all take a moment and consider the impact of what we consume. May we have the courage to cut out what is extraneous and distracting, and may we, like the hummingbirds, cease our constant motion and be still before God.