Saturday, 8 December 2012

A stilling of the soul

Tranquillity can seem a remote dream in our busy lives. 

Can we really be at peace with ourselves and the world around us without resorting to prescription medication, meditation of some sort or other, or simply spending a briefly blissful time at a spa with the various soothing therapies on offer?

This Advent season finds me drained and drooping with exhaustion. I tell myself:It isn't meant to be like this

How can I appreciate the wonder of the Incarnation of Emmanuel - God with us - if my days are full of stress, strain, weakness, frustration and pain? 

And let's not forget the endless 'To Do' list that doesn't ever seem to get done when it should:cards, presents, wrapping paper, festive decorating, food, and other paraphernalia. You get the picture.

Even if being sick and tired is pretty normal for me, it is still an unwelcome intrusion and one I stupidly fail to make allowances for each year. It is all too easy to fool myself into thinking - This Year will be different: I will be well (relatively speaking), prepare in advance, pace myself, not get so exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open at all come Christmas Day itself, then find I'm simply longing for it all to be over so I can just for ever, please! 

Living life in an endless pit of exhaustion, a blur of activity or a frazzled state of stress can't be right. Perhaps there is a way to be heavenly minded in an earthly existence?

A few weeks ago a friend sent me an e-mail with a verse she felt led to share. It was a timely reminder to cease from activity and striving, whether mental or physical, and rest in God's presence:

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" ~ Psalm 46:10

I have been thinking through each word from the opening part of this verse and wondering how to incorporate it into my life in a practical way.

Biblical mediation is a deep, slow, purposeful reflection, a 'chewing over' the words of scripture until they sink into our spirit, heart and mind and become part of who we are and how we react, think and feel.

This is a personal interpretation of its message and how it can be meditated upon:

Be: Be aware. Be in the moment. Being instead of doing. Being open and receptive to the whispers of God's grace. Be thankful for the good things in your life. Consider the glory of Being Alive and able to relate to God and to others

Still: Still the body.  Sit or lay in a relaxed position. Allow your thoughts to subside. Calmly allow them to flow and observe as if from a distance. Take some slow, deep breaths. Give any anxieties or cares over to God.

And know: Offer up your heart to God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you by His presence and through His word. Recognise that God inhabits the quiet places and we may have to tune our hearts to hear Him speaking. Quietly offer yourself to Him as you pay attention to anything He may be saying to you. 
Be thankful that He is a God who desires to be known.

That I AM God: Here we recognise the historical 'I AM' who revealed Himself to MosesThe eternal nature of His being is revealed in that description. 

The poem below (by Helen Mallicot) describes so well the "I AM" nature of God:

I was regretting the past and 
fearing the future.

Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
My Name is I AM

He paused; I waited; he continued:

When you live in the past,
with its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard. I am not there:
My name is not I WAS

When you live in the future,
with its problems and fears,
it is hard. I am not there:
My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment it 
is not hard.

I am here:

My name is 


You may be thinking that I am speaking to you as someone who has perfected the art of BEING. After all, people with M.E and other chronic health problems can't actually DO much can they? Sorry to disillusion you. In this area (as in so many) I speak as one who is still taking one baby step at a time. 

My body may be significantly less active and able than I want it to be but that doesn't prevent my mind from buzzing around restlessly like a hamster on a wheel - busy going nowhere - even when hampered by fatigue and brain-fog.

It can be so hard to switch off when my mind is running on adrenaline a lot of the time just to keep focused and seemingly alert. This blog post wouldn't have been written at all if I didn't already have most of it available as a "Here's one I prepared earlier" 'Blue Peter'-style draft. Writing whenever energy and inspiration are flowing helps me not to overtax myself when it isn't.

Perhaps it's time to put away the idea of 'Perfect Schmerfect' and settle for 'Good Enough' this Christmas and beyond?

It may mean shifting the focus this season away from our faults, failings and potentially organised chaos, away from mass and crass commercialism, and stopping to remember that God is the Eternal Now, the great I AM who is ready to meet with us right where we are in the messy imperfections of our humanity - and indeed already has in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ
"Don't be in such a hurry with life that you rush past those warm, quiet places where you have met with the Lord and enjoyed His company. The peace and perspective that comes from those few sweet moments will colour the rest of your day" ~ Joni Eareckson Tada 'Daily Devotionals'
Over to you:
Have you lost sight of what is really important in the run up to Christmas?
What does being at peace look like to you?


  1. Thanks for this post Joy. I'm loving the way God is bringing rest, silence and peace up as a continuous theme in my life at the moment. I better listen!

    1. Same goes for me too, Wendy. Now need to put it into practice! Harder to do than it sounds. Glad I'm not alone in needing this word. Bless you :)

  2. A vital message for us to listen to Joy. Let's let go of the damaging falsehoods in the myth of "having to be perfect" - at Christmas, and at any time. Thank you for your wise post.

    1. Thanks, Sheila. I really appreciate you dropping by and leaving a lovely comment. So pleased it spoke to you. May you be blessed with a greater sense of God's presence, peace and joy through this festive season.:)