Rhythmically rocking myself, curled up in a ball with my arms wrapped tight around my knees, I felt like a little child. I was a little child. Suddenly the world seemed to loom above me so large. The things I once had so much control over, now haunted me. I felt little. I felt naïve. I felt lost. But worst of all, I felt lonely. Inside of me was a hole that ate away at itself: a relentless craving. Pretty soon my whole being would be sucked into this vacuum that was slowly and agonizingly eating me alive.
Clenching my jaw in sheer determination I willed myself to remain strong. My body shook with the tenseness that ran threw my muscles. My breath grew raspy as I held back sobs. This was not the first night I could be found like this. This was but one of many nights I sat alone in desperation, longing for something more, yet not knowing quite what I was longing for.
Something within me drew my eyes up, my face off of the tear-stained pillow. At first I stared at the ceiling, feeling somehow intimidated by its closeness, its captivity. Then my focus seemed to change, and my gaze became mesmerized upon some distant point above me. A half-hearted, yet desperate prayer whispered over my chapped lips again and again. With all I had left within me I cried out, knowing that it was now or never, I needed some kind of a sign.
Silence: it overcame this burdened heart. It hung in the air offering a welcome calm yet begging to be broken. Then suddenly, “Be still.” The solemn voice echoed. It left no room for doubt. It faded everything else from the picture.
“Be still, O heart.” It spoke directly to me. “Be still and know that I am God.” I froze, like a rabbit in the headlights unable to move. Then, like a puppet with its strings suddenly released, I went limp. Everything within me seemed to be captivated by those words. It left me in awe.
For the longest time I just lay there, unable to move, letting that simple line run over and over again inside my head.
“Be STILL and know that I am God”
“Be still and KNOW that I am God”
“Be still and know that I AM God”
“Be still and know that I am GOD.”
How could I not fall down to my knees, broken? I picked up my Bible; it felt almost foreign in my hands. Flipping through the delicate pages, I felt overwhelmed at all the words given to those who simply chose to listen. Yet of all these words, it took only a handful to move my soul. Psalms 46:10— in another translation it read, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
But Lord, I probed, How am I supposed to stop striving? Isn’t that what I am supposed to be doing? I have been trying so hard to try!
I could almost hear Him chuckling at me. And suddenly I was transported to a place, a place I was sure I had never been before, but a place that felt hauntingly familiar. Cold stone walls, a dirty bare floor, one tiny window high above my head barred with provoking steel, dark and damp; it didn’t take long to figure out that I was in a prison cell. Perplexity filled my mind as to what I was doing in this place. Why a prison Jesus? Didn’t I just find release? I turned to look around me, to see if I could find any clues as to what this place held in store for me, but my perplexity soon turned to a frantic anxiety. For the first time I noticed the rusted shackles that protruded from the stonewall. The chains led from their stronghold in the wall right back to … me! My ankles and my wrists were ensnared in harsh, heavy steel. I struggled against the baring metal, yanking myself away from the wall, away from the chains, yet with no avail. Sweat began to pour down from my temples as I thrashed against the chains like a wild animal in a rabid frenzy, and then finally, to ease the throbbing and burning of raw skin and bruising on my arms and legs, I gave up. I realized my defeat.
As if on cue, those eight words returned to me. “Be still and know that I am God.” I dropped down to my knees. Any desperation I had felt before suddenly increased ten fold. I didn’t mind any of the dirt that collected on my skin as I lowered my face to the floor and allowed tears to create tiny mud puddles around me. Scales fell off my eyes. Like Saul of Tarsus, I had received my own divine revelation. Though not a physical illumination, I can only try and claim that mine was just as glorious.
Lifting my head and wrapping my arms around my knees I began rocking myself rhythmically. Somewhere along the lines the shackles had vanished and healing had washed over my tender limbs. My eyes drew towards the stained concrete ceiling, which gradually faded into a pure blue sky. The aliveness of the sky and the not-so-distant sunlight seeped into me as I reflected on the long night I just evolved from, and the new day I was about to step into. My own striving had led only to more pain and more defeat. There was no way I could find release on my own.
It took something far more than my efforts to bring true freedom. It was more than the messages I had heard in church week after week. It was more than the sincere, yet somehow lacking encouragements of those close to me. It was more than the Pharisaic followings of a religion and spiritually fruitless actions. It simply required me to be still. To be still and know who my God is and was.[Sarah Christine is a student. She hopes to someday pursue writing more, for it makes her life worth living. Right now her life consists of running around too much and constantly having to remind herself to slow down and be still.]