We gathered, as we do, around the same table. It was funny, different folks were “early” and “on time” and “a little late.” As we laughed, as some got coffee, as we negotiated the available seats we settled in and prayed. And then of course we checked-in, checked-in with some homework that perhaps some (if not most) would prefer to have not been assigned, to consider each day (by literally looking at it) “Be still, and know that I AM GOD” and to consider what an entire year of really trusting and believing that would look and feel like. The conversation — like all of them — was rich, full, peppered with insight, laughter, and vulnerability. Comments like the year would feel good — we would feel good, using our skills and talents knowing God has equipped us to move in certain ways & to bless others in certain ways; or that if we really believe this it allows us the ability to breathe because guess what — we are not God and God is in control — even when we don’t see how something will work out; there were comments that being a bit further along on the journey of life allows one to be still more easily but also there were comments that being still (any type of stillness) was hard — that people wanted to be doing something for God — must be doing something for God (I mean just consider the world and the community around us, right?). There was a comment too though — have we ever considered that God might literally be also inviting us to take a time out, to breathe, to trust the divine parent (GOD) to know what is going on, what is needed, what is helpful? Have we ever considered like how many around the table are parents that God knows what is best and the invitation for stillness is for us, is necessary, is part of the movement?
It’s hard to trust of course though…we know this because by grace we are alive and on this journey of being found by & seeking God (Amen!) — and so it’s a good reminder, a good invitation, even within the very context of where the scripture comes from — that while the world seems to be falling, while chaos abounds, while it is hard — God has the audacity (or perhaps better named — the LOVE) to tell us, hey slow down, I’ve got this — “Be still, and know that I AM GOD.” It’s pretty amazing. It’s a reminder EACH OF US NEED. It is something that I believe will bless us immeasurably if we are able to trust it & live it for a year — because God does desire this for us, to trust in God’s love, God’s wisdom, God’s ability…wouldn’t we be more blessed trusting God than us & our God-given talents?
Now — while the conversation still most definitely had more rounds to go we turned to scripture, Isaiah 43:1-7…some excerpts,
- But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; “Fear no, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”…. 4. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you,…
This chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful one (feel free to read all of it!) — but we took some time just with the beginning 7 verses. What stood out to some was that through the hard times — through the oppressive circumstances of life — God has your back, a translation that painted this picture clearly was how the New Living Translation renders Isaiah 43:2
When you go through deep waters,I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
We also noticed the ability to read this directly for ourselves, the attempt to hear this as it would have been read (heard) originally, the compassion of God to bring back those spread afar, the ability to read this through a Christ lens (one where Christ comes to redeem us). And as we pushed against the time allotted for our weekly study we turned to what the homework and lifework is for this week — to daily (or at least once — but ideally daily) — write down what God calls you/says about you. (Yes come ready to share on Sunday). The goal here to be very transparent, is to HEAR how God sees us more loudly than how anyone else (including ourselves) see us…So happy listening & looking forward to continuing the journey on Sunday!
Listening with you ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater