I recently read a book by John Duckworth called Just for a Moment I Saw the Light. It has some interesting stories about things he’s experienced in his walk with God since he was a child. In his chapter on Devotions, he writes about his struggles with establishing his own ‘Quiet Time’ with the Lord.
I don’t know about you, but this area of my praying and Bible reading didn’t always flow easily for me. When I was about eight years old, I signed the Active Members Pledge of the Junior Society of Christian Endeavour, which included these words: ‘Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I promise Him that I will pray and read the Bible every day…’
Although we children often recited this pledge together at the weekly meeting on Sundays, I never really noticed the importance of the words about trusting Jesus for strength. Looking back, I see that I probably thought I had to do it all by myself. Even with the signature of my father on the certificate, with his promise to help me keep my side of the bargain, I hadn’t understood the full significance of my promises.
You might point out my very young age as a reason, and that may be true, but I was no better as I grew older. Grandma bought a Bible for me, and Dad said he’d give me a pound (£1) once I’d read the whole New Testament. Sadly, I became stuck on the ‘begats’ in the first chapter of Matthew, and only managed to reach the Gospel of Luke before giving up. I could readily relate to John Duckworth and his Quiet Time dilemma.
As I grew older, my Bible reading was scattered; mainly involving compulsory memorisation of various passages. My guilty feelings caused me large amounts of inner embarrassment over the years. I knew other people had the same difficulty, but I reasoned that they hadn’t signed the pledge… and I had! Eventually God helped me to overcome these problems, and I was able to establish good habits of prayer and Bible reading that suited my lifestyle, family routine, and personality. I’m glad God knows we’re all different!
When I read John’s story I realised that here was something I could learn from him. God had given him the scripture, Be still, and know that I am God. That night, I thought about it and asked God to help me to be still. Maybe we think we know what stillness is, but it’s not always easy to put it into practice when we are on edge, worried, or in pain, as I was.
Next morning I looked up Psalm 46:10 in various versions of the Bible, and was surprised to see how many different words had replaced ‘be still’ in lots of modern translations. Stop your fighting, cease striving, calm down, let go of your concerns, be in awe, let be, desist, and relax! All those words showed me how hard I was fighting to try and ‘be calm!’
I was so focussed on that, but unable to see who God is! Once I turned to see him, my Lord, who really is in control of everything, I could relax, calm down, and be still! What a blessing to worship him, and feel his peace permeating my De Quervain’s tenosynovitis pain. He really is in control of it all, calming it, relaxing it, and giving me a quiet time with him.
Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth. ~ Christian Standard Bible