Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Being still and knowing--Wesley Foundation E-letter (Methodist Campus Minsitry)

Dear Friends,


It is another week closer to Spring Break—Yay!  We are meeting this Thursday.  Remember free food at 6:30.  Grab some food and go to the game, or stay and hang out and we’ll talk about Jesus!


Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:


In this season of Lent I want to challenge you with these words from the Lord:  “Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10).  In a time of self-denial and repentance, these seem like strange words to ponder and live into.  And yet the challenge is stark on this day when so many things threaten to make our hearts gallop away from us, even while they are still in our bodies!


Be still the Lord says.  Be still and know Me.  Know Me more than you know fear.  Be still and instead of telling Me who I am, let Me tell you who I am.  In the midst of your trouble, in the midst of your heartache, in the midst of your anxious toil, be still and know Me.  What an outrageous concept that Jesus demands we wrap our heads, and especially our hearts, around.  It is outrageous precisely because of what we see around us and within us in any given hour of the day.  The fear that permeates our moment by moment lives is punctuated by events that defy explanation.  Within the past week there has been another college campus shooting spree; there is constant talk of recession, while numerous people live with the possibility of losing their jobs and even their homes; there looms the ugly reality of cuts to higher education in the state of Kentucky that will wipe out whole programs of academia on our campus.  And this doesn’t even begin to touch the personal fears and tragedies that keep us drowning out our sorrows with some kind of mindless oblivion.  Yet hear the Lord say, “Be still and know Me.”  Knowing Him in silence is such a quiet enterprise and yet so counter-cultural.  What we discover there is powerful enough to break off every burden we have.  We discover the One who made us.  He knows us.  Delights in us.  Weeps over us.  Pines for us.   And invites us to truly experience His heart bursting with love as He thinks of us.  To know Him and the power of His love is to know that which can truly set us free.


In considering God’s invitation to stillness, there are two extremes that one would be wise to avoid.  The first is to never be still at all, to be so enamored of distraction, so needful of noise for fear of what silence might reveal that one never allows any kind of quiet in one’s day.  How easily we become entrapped in the cacophony of sounds when we are surrounded by electronic devices that deliver the instant gratification of drowning out any real and useful look into one’s soul.  Information overload so saturates our senses that we can easily avoid our negative feelings, memories, and relational quandaries.  The real loss however is that it also prevents us from perceiving the ever-present holy and sacred in our lives.  Sometimes the most spiritual thing one can do in such an environment is to simply hit the off button, to silence the radio in the car, to remove the ear-buds and look around at the world one travels in.


The other extreme is to indeed seek out solitude and stillness out of a need to be “spiritual” while effectively keeping it significantly devoid of God.  Such quiet is still quite filled with stuff, and in fact isn’t really quiet at all.  It is the kind of silence where we impose our own agendas, looking to find the quick fix for the things we can’t solve, or merely another “feel good” panacea that medicates and insulates the soul from unpleasantness without providing any real and lasting deliverance.  I am reminded here of the words of Jesus:


When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.”  When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order.  Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first (Luke 11:24-26).


The lesson here is that it is impossible to draw near to the Lord if we are unwilling to do it on His terms.  We often want to make the Lord into our own image, to feel a closeness, that euphoric experience of happiness, which merely reinforces the fairytales we want to hear.  Perhaps that is why we are reluctant to be still in His presence.  Our Lord is the Truth:  the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  And His truth never compromises or bends to our wishes.  So in the stillness we are confronted with the ways that our lives do not conform to His Truth.  In the stillness that is His, we must hear the call to conversion that demands something of us, something we are not always willing to give even when the invitation offered is one of healing and hope.  This is illustrated in the movie “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” which  aptly describes Aslan the lion:  He is certainly good, but definitely not tame. 


So we come at last to an understanding of why seeking God, knowing Him on His terms, secluding ourselves in stillness so we have room to hear Him speak, is truly an outrageous thing.  We cannot control what He might say, and we cannot pretend that we are okay without His Lordship in our lives.  But I cannot leave without lifting up the word of hope:  Christ always comes to us with truth spoken in love.  His love is tender and gentle, yet unrelenting in its intention to fall abundantly into the aching holes of our hearts.  His love is extravagant, personal, and the word of Truth He brings is always good news.  And so with you, I too am--






Sami Wilson

Campus Minister/Director

WKU Wesley Foundation

United Methodist Campus Ministry



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