As many of you know, Emily and I spent a few days at The Cove (near Asheville) this past month. The Cove is a beautiful place where time seems to slow down. We stayed in a suite with no TV. With no schedule other than mealtimes, we moved at our own leisure. Without responsibilities, we “wasted time” by exploring hiking trails, visiting the chapel, and perusing the bookstore. We met other Christians during mealtimes and engaged in slow and meaningful conversation. And we also took time to ponder God and his leading in our lives. The time was refreshing to say the least.
Throughout our stay, we were often confronted with the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” which were displayed in various places. I don’t know about your experience, but my own points to the difficulty of being still. Sometimes it seems that life is driving me rather than the other way around. There is always something else to be done, always something that needs attention. And when things do let up, I just want to veg for a while in front of the TV and be entertained. Life can get put on auto-pilot, and I end up wondering where all of the time has gone. Or I set aside time to “be still” and find that circumstances won’t allow it. Children wake up early or something pressing demands my attention. Being still is not easy, nor is it natural in an age of constant motion. Yet it is the call of the disciple who would know and please God.
Emily and I went to The Cove in hopes of gaining perspective. We came away with the blessing of refreshing stillness. We remembered God. We remembered his calling on our lives. We stood in awe of the one who created such beauty and trusted in his power to undergird us today. Being still proved to be a needed and refreshing experience!
Now we’re back to the daily grind where stillness seems so elusive, and that elusiveness can be frustrating. The stillness that came so naturally and even unexpectedly at The Cove does not always come so easily in the midst of everyday responsibility. And yet the experience carries forward. Stillness at The Cove led to renewed perspective on what is truly important in our lives. More than this, it led to a renewed vision of God. These things can’t help but inform our living.
And maybe this is the point of stillness; not that we stay in a beatific state, but rather that our stillness would give us perspective and strength to live well before God when we return to the everyday. After all, Emily and I don’t live at The Cove. We live in Durham. This is the place of our life and work together. And this is the ground of our calling. The beauty of The Cove is not that it is a place to perpetually stay. No, the beauty of The Cove is found in that it came home with us. It informs our lives today.
Not to say that we won’t return to The Cove or some other place like it! Emily and I are talking about making stillness retreats a regular occurrence in the Smith household. After all, every journey needs rest stops along the way! Our recent experience has taught us this, and we are thankful to God for meeting us in the stillness of our time away.
I wonder if you have found time to be still before God lately. Or are the demands of life driving you instead of the other way around? May you experience rest in God’s presence. May you receive a renewed vision of who He is. May you gain perspective on life now. May you carve out time to be still and know that He is God.