Off the Hamster Wheel Into Stillness.
Years ago, I remember one of my most frequent questions: “When I’m working so hard, why does it feel like I’m growing up so slowly in God?” I was reading countless books, listening to loads of teaching and trying hard to do everything I was learning. It was exhausting.
And God in His kindness answered my not-so-brilliant question… with a hamster.
Ernie was our pet, beloved by the first graders in my classroom… and dedicated to one mission: running on his wheel. Daytime. Night time. I suppose he slept on occasion. But somewhere in Ernie’s world, there was a finish line out there somewhere and that wheel was the way to get there.
One morning, as I uncovered his cage, I felt the Holy Spirit smile. I suddenly realized that Ernie and I both had something that we needed to learn:
Effort did not equal distance covered.
Ernie was expending huge amounts of energy, but he wasn’t actually getting anywhere. It’s the equivalent of believing that just because we’re working really, really hard at growing up in God, that we’re actually gaining ground in becoming more like Him. But transformation into His image doesn’t work like that.
Being made into the image of Christ occurs in being first, before our doing.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In that transformation process, stillness is key because you can’t accurately behold something or Someone if you’re dashing about in worry or self-effort. When we look in a mirror, we stand still… we focus… and God desires for us to be amazed by Who we see and encounter.
The place of stillness is the opposite of running on an endless, repetitive wheel of trying-harder-to-do-better. When David said “Be still and know that I am God” in Psalms 46:10, “still” literally means, “to rest, to let go of, to sink down into.”
God’s invitation to stillness is an invitation to relax and let go of striving so that we can more clearly encounter who He really is.
This is where folks often say, “Yeah, but that’s hard.” It is, if you try to be still in your own strength. This is where the Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Teacher and our Comforter in the learning, so I began to pray.
“Holy Spirit, I’m not so good at stillness… yet, but I know that You are brilliant at it.
I’m so grateful that You love being my Helper,
until Your nature in me becomes my everyday reality.
Thank You that You are my promise of peace and my place of stillness.”
Every morning, I would read aloud John 14:27 and Isaiah 30:15. I wrote them on a card that I carried with me. I framed them on a paper beside my bed so that they would be the first thing I would see in the morning and the last thing I would see at night.
Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] (AMP)
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (NKJV)
Short prayer. Two scriptures. Huge impact.
Yes, it’s a continuing process, but that prayer and those scriptures became a mirror that I still stand before and discover just how much He is God for me in this place.
So, what would happen if you prayed a prayer like that every day? (Or probably a better one).
What if those scriptures were the last thing you thought of at night and the first thing you considered every morning?
Try it for a few weeks…and tell us the story of what you discover.
Thanks for being on this journey with us.
– Allison Bown
PS) Allison talks more about experiencing this life in the chapter “The Joy is in the Journey” in her book, Joyful Intentionality. To further explore how you can grow in stillness in your walk with God, get your copy here!
PPS) Graham also talks more about developing this lifestyle with God in his book, Beholding and Becoming. You can currently get this book and a special brilliant journal this month at Brilliant Book House. Click here to order your set!