Today, I’ve been watching the snowflakes dance and drift slowly to the ground. It’s the first snow of winter and I love it! It’s coated the grassy area in back and the roofs of the buildings across the way with a white layer of fluff. For a while, I heard shouts of joy from kids playing in the snow – giggles and the sound of a snowball fight in progress. I wish I could have joined them, but, alas, the final assignments of the semester were calling my name. Even now I’m procrastinating!
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been loving seminary, but I’m ready to have a bit of a break! Right now, I’m in “get it done” mode and crossing things off my list makes me almost shout with giddiness: “Yes! One step closer!” It’s been a wonderful semester, but I feel almost as if I’ve forgotten some basic things in the hustle and bustle.
In school we discuss God, ponder God, debate about God and theology, learn about how people in the past have talked about and believed in God, how people worship, why we worship the way we do… It’s fascinating and I feel like I’m learning a ton, but it’s almost as if I’ve forgotten how important it is to just sit still and listen to God.
I find myself in dire need of Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Those two words are so simple and, yet, incredibly complicated. How on earth can I be still with seven classes, a part-time job, my teaching parish, and trying to have some kind of a social life?! And now, it’s Advent and we’re ramping up for Christmas. Being still seems impossible, but I think it’s the thing we need most desperately.
In Advent, we await the coming of Christ with great anticipation and excitement. In this season of hope and expectation, we wait until the time is right for Christ to enter the world. However, I think this is what we need to be doing every day – not just in Advent. We need to be still – to wait for God to burst into our lives and make Himself known to us. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated in Meditating on the Word, “to be silent does not mean to be inactive; rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey.”
If we’re running around, we might miss His arrival. We might miss the opportunities He wants to grant us in spending time with loved ones or making time for the stranger or the outcast. We might miss how He longs to speak to us through His Word if we say, “I haven’t the time to read yet another book.” We might miss speaking with Him or hearing Him speak to us in prayer.
The snowfall and the sound of children playing helped to remind me of the simple pleasures. They helped me to remember how relaxing and renewing simply sitting with a cup of coffee and taking things in is. Moreover, I was reminded of how important it is to sit quietly with God – to listen for His voice, to praise His goodness and faithfulness, to thank Him for the blessings we have received, and to just enjoy the company of the Almighty. How refreshing it is to be still!
And so, I pray:
Holy God, as the snow drifts to the ground, help us to remember the importance of being still and knowing who you are – the God of creation, justice, salvation, peace, mercy, hope and renewal. In the midst of to-do lists, errands and the end of the semester, may we rest in the sheer joy of sitting with you. I ask this in the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ, AMEN!
© 2009. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.
A beautiful instrumental version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by “Casting Crowns” to put you in the holiday mood: