still.

Psalm 107:25-31 ESV
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.  They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;  they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.   Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.   Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Being at Wheaton is not the same as when I first came as a freshman. Although, it is similar. When I was a freshman, I knew no one. And I was constantly trying to find people to spend time with. I know people now, but I’m still desperately trying to find people to spend time with. It kinda stinks when people look at me and wonder what I’m still doing here. Or ask me if I’m a freshman. I usually politely respond “No, I’m a fifth year senior”, but in my head I’m thinking “No, ya dummy, I’ve been here longer than you have. Get over yourself.”  In a way, I feel like a freshman. I feel like I’m forced to meet people and create intentional community.  I feel pressure to share my life experiences with people and create friendships.  But, I feel out of place and naked without the security of my class roaming around.
Aside from my desperate attempt to be with people, there is another similarity between my fifth year and my freshman year at Wheaton. When I was a freshman, I drew near to God. He was my refuge, my safe place. I came to Wheaton because I felt led here by him. My freshman year, I searched for him in my loneliness, asked him for answers and direction, and talked to him constantly. Now, being alone and stressed, feeling like the work keeps piling up on me and not knowing how student teaching is going to work, I am desperately seeking him. Losing close, deep relationships has caused deep pain, seeing my class move on has caused me to question why I’m still here at Wheaton, and not having any consistent, steadfast friendships has spun my life upside down. It has forced me to realize that God is the only one who will be there for me no matter what. God will not move away from me, he will not leave me for someone else, he will not ignore my prayers or my desperate messages to him, he will not leave me in silence forever. He is my best friend, my consistency, steadfast rock of my life.
So to the stillness. Today God showed me his stillness. Before I went to Women’s Chorale rehearsal, I decided I was going to watch the sunset over at Northside Park. When I got there, I was going to work on aural skills while sitting on the dock, but I decided to take my Bible instead (probably a good life choice). As I sat, I literally just listened, and breathed. I read a little, I prayed, but mostly just sat.
Northside Park was pretty busy during the time I went. There was a marching band practicing in the distance, trains blowing their horns, cicadas buzzing away, kids yelling trying to hear their echo, I was even interrupted by a man with his child who decided to fish off the dock I was on. Usually I wouldn’t do this, but Leon (I believe that was his name… I couldn’t understand his English very well) and I had a little conversation.
Although there was noise all around me, Leon’s child making random babbling noises, the screaming kid trying to hear his echo, the ducks quacking away, etc. I was at peace. In those moments, I felt the stillness of the water. I could feel God’s stillness on my heart. I was there. On the dock. Watching the sunset and basking in God’s presence. I didn’t have a care in the world because I was in the presence of my Father in heaven.
I wish I lived my life like this. Noise happens all around us. There is no way to avoid it.  There are people talking to us, children screaming, music playing; all beautiful in their own way. I wouldn’t call the noise a distraction, because, it’s not like the noises were purposefully detracting my mind from God. I think it’s ok to engage the noise around us but making sure we keep our minds and focus on God and his stillness. So my question for myself is do I live listening to the stillness of the water? Do I focus my life basking in the presence of God or do I instead get too caught up in the noise around me?
My prayer is that God would teach me how to be. How to sit in his presence and enjoy his stillness, while life continues to move on around me. And in his stillness see the beauty in the noise around me. I pray that I would be focused on him and the stillness over the waters. I pray that God would continually still my heart to slow down and enjoy each moment of my day, whether I’m in class, studying with friends, sitting at a noisy park or alone trying to figure out what to do with my evening. I pray he would teach me to enjoy and love his stillness among the constant noise I’m living in.
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