September 08, 2020

Gravitating Toward Stillness

Written By Cary Schmidt

ESPN aired a cornhole tournament recently. Yes, cornhole. 

You know the country is in a bad place when exciting Sunday afternoons are reduced to cornhole. I couldn’t help but laugh as I saw the camera zoom in to the bean bags, commentators analyzed angles, producers replayed slow-motion tosses—and then it hit me, “I’m actually watching cornhole!”

That’s when it came to me—I think I’ve hit the bottom.

The balance between stillness and purposefulness is not an easy one to find! And in the search, we’re confronted with all sorts of distractions—even cornhole. 

I gravitate toward motion and away from stillness—partly because I was taught to “work hard” as a younger man, partly because I love serving the Lord, and probably partly because my heart is still too deeply wired to seek fulfillment in “what I do.” Do you gravitate toward motion or toward stillness? 

God calls us to both—but knowing which one and when is the key!

Well, there’s no doubt in a shutdown that God is creating more margin for stillness—at least for most of us. In fact, about 42% of the time, God calls us to stillness. Now that sounds like a big number, but that’s basically eight hours of sleep plus one day off each week (not including vacation time). 

Making us weak is God’s way of saying, “You are finite. You must be dependent. You must restore. You must worship. You must rest in me. You weren’t made to be in perpetual motion.” 

This is what the biblical Sabbath is all about—worship, rest, family, feasting, thanks, and contemplation. This is what Israel’s three feasts were about—national repentance, worship, feasting, and family reunions. God basically says, “Let me run things, and you focus on being mine.” 

What a gift! How good is God?! He handles our business, sustains our lives, and promises His provision so we don’t have to worry about these things. He would much rather us expend our energy and time enjoying Him and fulfilling His calling.

We get it turned around. We start to behave as if sustaining ourselves is up to us, and serving God is our duty. We start to work more than we should and rest less than we should. Before long we’re exhausted, discouraged, and our families are running on fumes.  

Maybe that’s why God has rearranged our schedules and lifestyles these past many weeks. He’s removed primarily discretionary things. Maybe He’s gifting us with deliverance from the things that drove us beyond healthy. Maybe He’s renewing parts of our hearts and lives that were fragmenting. Maybe He’s forcing us to confront corners of our lives and families that we’ve neglected. 

He does it in love. He’s not condemning. He knows what we most need, and apparently it wasn’t sports at this time (unless it’s golf or cornhole!) 

Whatever God’s purpose is, trust Him in it and seek His face through it. God has worked deeply in my life during this season—and for that I’m thankful. He is also doing a deep work in you. You may not see it yet, but trust that He is working.

“O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”—Psalm 31:23–24