What it really means and how it can change your life
I was standing between the vertical blinds in my parents’ home, staring out into the darkness and talking to God. And when I say I was talking to God, I mean I was complaining, adamantly. In that particularly perfect vision hindsight bestows, I can say now that I was throwing a tantrum on a scale more fitting my then two-year-old.
I had my reasons, but I did not then possess the understanding that prayer isn’t about trying to convince God of your brilliant reasonings. I thought I could, through ample complaints and tears, pull Him to my way of thinking.
It wasn’t working. Instead, in the relative silence around me I heard, in my spirit, a voice speak so distinctly that I turned to see if it had been my dad in the kitchen two rooms away. This Voice did not speak words of comfort and reassurance, though I found comfort and reassurance in them. It did not speak an answer to my problem, though it was my answer for what to do right in that moment. I heard the words: “Shut up!”
I know some will find it challenging to accept that words that can be said so harshly could come from our Lord, but these words were not words of harshness, but words of correction, comfort and direction to me in that moment.
My reasons fell silent. I could see instantly that my heart toward God and toward the situation were wrong, but correctable. I knew that God heard, but that the answer was a no – at least for now, and that brought comfort. I knew that God wanted me to get my eyes on Him and His plan and off me and my plan and that spoke direction to me that was life-changing.
Years later, as I studied deeply a beloved scripture, I discovered something interesting that deepened my understanding of the words I had heard.
“Be still.” It’s our oft quoted phrase from Psalm 46:10 that we see everywhere from tattoos to T-shirts. But what does it mean?
In the Hebrew, the phrase, “be still” is one word: “raphah.” It is a word that means stop, cease, leave it alone and, as one commentator wrote, would more accurately be translated, “ENOUGH!”
In the context of the phrase we see that God has demolished the weapons and war machines of the enemies of Israel. And as His protective destruction culminates, He cries out: “Enough! Stop all this! Come to see and know by experience that I alone am God! None of your efforts will stop Me from being exalted as God of all the nations, as God of all the earth!” (Paraphrase mine.)
In my own life, I have enemies – not flesh and blood enemies, but enemies that fight against the knowledge of God, as they were fighting that night at my parent’s house. I fight against the enemies of fear or anxiety, against distrusting God and attributing to Him my pains or trials. I fight those enemies and when I do, I come into agreement with God who commanded the enemies to “Be still,” the same as He did when He stilled the waves of the Sea of Galilee with the same command (Mark 4:39).
I speak to my soul and command it to be still, to submit to the knowledge of who God really is, not the caricature my emotions are trying to make Him out to be. And it is there that I find a new truth: the word “raphah” that cries, “enough!” is closely related to the word, “rapha” – the word that means to thoroughly heal, to stitch together, to mend, to repair and make whole. It is here I find my own wayward heart and mind coming into alignment with God’s unchanging perfection and being knit together and repaired to meet up with His perfect stillness and peace.
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10