STILL OR STRIVE – RELAX OR RESIST
A tonsillectomy can be a freeing event! My two year old grandson has recently been relieved of some very enlarged tonsils and adenoids which were an obstruction to his breathing. At night he struggled to breathe freely. When the obstruction was removed he could sleep freely without the struggle, breathing like a healthy 2 year old.
I have a spiritual obstruction constricting my awareness of the breath of God in my soul. My focus to prove that I am enough can constrict my ability to live freely. The struggle for perfection and competition with comparison to others is a drag on my soul.
Is that true? Does the essence of my soul depend on my perfection, competence and adequacy? The truth is that my soul was MADE to connect with God, nothing more, nothing less. As the words of Dallas Willard so adeptly state:
You’re a soul made by God, made for God and made to need God — which means you were not made to be self sufficient.
Our soul is the most important part of us. Our identity is not found in our doings but in our being a child of God. Our identity drives our thinking and beliefs. My identity that I am not enough drives my belief that I must work harder to prove my worth. This creates a cascade of thoughts that lead to anxiety and fear.
Thoughts create the flow of our of the brain chemistry (ie. neurophysiology) which ultimately impact the health of the physical body. This fact points to how the brain is a responsive organ of our body controlled by our chosen identity. An identity of vulnerability and fear produces anxious, obsessive thoughts that have a negative reaction in the brain chemistry impacting memory, heart rate, blood pressure, restlessness among other dysfunctions. However, an identity of belonging to a loving God produces beliefs of security and peace that free the brain of unhealthy neurophysiology and strengthens the body. How do I center the identity of my soul on God’s love rather than my fears ? Psalm 46:10 gives a simple answer to this complex struggle.
BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE NATIONS. I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH.
In this scripture the word “still” in Hebrew (raphah) is an action verb that means to cease, to let drop (as arms in battle) relax, sink, throw down. In Hebrew, Raphah is not defined as “rest” it is an intentional act. BE STILL does not mean to be unconcerned, inactive or silent, impatient or restless; rather it means to be quiet in striving. TO CEASE STRIVING. Striving involves struggle, fighting for something.
Centering is the key to Ceasing.
My one year old granddaughter loves being held, particularly when she is tired, hungry or insecure. She will hold her arms high over her head and say “up, up” over and over. She is 100% dependent on her parents to provide her with her needs. As she is lifted up, she sighs, her body relaxes and her fretting ceases, satisfied and trusting she will be cared for. We must do the same as we allow our soul to be embraced by the living God. Our God is the ultimate, HE IS EXALTED! I like Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of this verse in the MESSAGE:
Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.
Exalt to Exhale! The Hebrew word for exalt is a verb that means to lift up, to set on high. As we trust and allow ourselves to be held and lifted up by our exalted Father we can (sigh) exhale, releasing our fear and taking in the peace of the breath of His presence in our soul. In the new testament, Pneuma is the Greek word for Spirit which means soul or breath. God’s spirit and/or breath resides in his embraced children – to know God is to know that we are his. The chorus of the song Oceans by Hillsong says it well…
”I will call upon Your name Keep my eyes above the waves My soul will rest in Your embrace I am Yours and You are mine
We have a choice, a will to work at striving to gain ground OR Cease striving and be grounded in Grace.
The first step to being STILL is to focus on being grateful for the great-fullness of God, trusting His love. Begin today to have an active awareness of the great-fullness of God as the exalted creator and author of perfect love.
Trusting begins with Thankfulness.