/ Jeffrey A Stivason

Sit and Be Still

When I was a young boy, my parents would tell me to “sit and be still.” I think they picked up the expression from my grandmother on my mom’s side. I can still remember the West Virginian inflection (read twang) in her voice as she said that very thing to my younger cousins. And I remember how hard that was, sitting still, that is. I detested it. I couldn’t wait for stillness to give way to activity. But my parents, like most parents, thought that teaching me to be still would provide me with a moment of reflection.

Now that I’m older, I can see how God used that parental training in my Christian life. There are times when all we can do is sit still.  David experienced that. He told us about it in Psalm 46. God said to him, “Be still.” But David wasn’t simply to be still. He was to learn something, a lesson. Thinking back to my childhood, there was always something appended to the command “sit and be still.”  Usually, I was to think about what I had said or not said and what I had done or not done. Now, I’m pretty sure that it was usually my brother’s fault, but I got the blame. Of course, he would have said the same of me.  But the point is, my experience matches well with David’s experience. My parents had a lesson for me and God had a lesson for him. God told him to “Be still and know that I am God.”

I’m in a time of my life, or “a season” as it’s now called, when that lesson has come home to me once again. I am sitting. I don’t want to “sit and be still.” I want to do something. To be even more specific, I want to do something for someone else. But I can’t. It’s impossible. I also remember back to those days as a kid when my parents would provide a little commentary on why I was sitting. They were interpreting my situation. After doing a little exegesis they were applying gospel truths to my seat and mind. In those days, it took a long time for them to sink in. I was that kind of learner.  J. C. Ryle would have described me as the youth who needed to touch the stove. You know that boy in Thoughts for Young Men? He was the dumbest of all boys. That was me.

Today people will come to me with an exegesis of my situation. Some of them are trying to help me see a lesson that God is teaching me.  They mean well and I take it that way. Some aren’t so kind and I’m sorry for them.  But one thing I know. No one can read God’s providence with infallibility. The man who claims to know what God is doing in any particular providence thinks more of himself than he ought to think. He is on a fool’s errand and he’s trying to convince you to come along for the ride.

I may not know why God in His wisdom, goodness, and power has chosen this particular providence for me and my family but there is one thing I know with absolute certainty. I know that He would have me to "sit and be still" so that I might know that He is God. I know that. And I know that He is God. I know that full well. What is more, I know that He has revealed Himself so beautifully and richly in the humiliated and exalted Son. I know that the Lord went to the cross that he might take death’s sting away.  And maybe that is the lesson, or at least one of the lessons that I need to learn. I need to sit still because the Son, who came to take death’s sting, is now Himself sitting at the Father's right hand. And He is sitting not only because He experienced death’s sting for me, but He experienced it for the very one for whom I want to do something. Yes, what is impossible for me, He achieved. So, I think I will "sit and be still" for a little while longer.

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor (Grace RPC, graceingibsonia.org) and NT professor at RPTS in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also editor at placefortruth.com.

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