A Full and Complete Stop

Photo credit: Walter Knerr, from https://pixabay.com
My teenagers are learning to drive.

Crazy how much I’ve apparently forgotten from Driver’s Ed.

Mom, you’re going too fast!

Mom, you’re following too close!

Mom, you didn’t come to a full and complete stop!

Okay, so I admit, after a few decades of driving experience, I’ve become a little lax about strictly following the rules of the road. I’m becoming much more intentional about it now that my children are behind the wheel of a speeding ton of metal projectile...which they could be driving on their own in just a few short months...among many other projectiles and dangers. Talk about your heart roaming around outside of your body! 

This morning I came to a stop sign and consciously made the effort to come to a full and complete stop. I’m so glad I did, not just because my son was watching, but because in that simple act I was reminded of how we often need to come to a full and complete stop in our lives.

In Psalm 46:10, God tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” In this season of my life, it’s a miracle if I can get a full and complete stop for five minutes, to just close my eyes and listen for God’s whispers. This is something I want to be more intentional about. When I take just a few minutes before the day gets away from me, to just be still, it makes the day go so much smoother. This holds true every…single…time. So why don’t I do this amazing practice of centering in stillness every day?

Distractions.

Telephone ringing, dinging or whatever new notification sound my son has changed it to. That constant feeling of needing to catch up on something - housework, yard work, Facebook. Driving to and from sports, scouts or youth events. Volunteering. Being available to friends and family. Often it’s the contents of my own mind running over the never ending checklist of a bazillion things I need to get done.

In our efforts to be still each day, we need to harness the power of the other be still from scripture. In Mark 4:39, Jesus was resting on a boat after a very busy day, when a storm hit, causing his disciples to interrupt his rest. He rebuked the storm, saying, “Peace, be still!”

Would the world end if you silence your phone for five minutes? Will the to-do list mount even higher if you take a short break? Or, would you instead be better equipped and more energized to tackle things?

About 14 years ago I had another kind of full and complete stop. I was a young mom with the weight of the world upon my shoulders, or so I thought. I grew up learning to be responsible and giving, but somewhere along the way I missed the message to take care of myself, to be still and to reconnect with my source of life and energy. Stress from work and finances had worn me down, on top of the normal exhaustion of just being a young mom, enduring sleepless nights simply trying to get our precious little ones to stay in their own beds. I was giving at work and giving to the kids, but I wasn’t giving enough time to God, me, or my marriage. I wasn’t taking enough time to just be still.

I crashed.

Hard.

Or, was it God’s way of showing me I needed to be still?

My body and mind broke down, and so did my marriage for a while. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I had gained a lot of weight and wasn’t exercising or eating healthy. I wasn’t taking any time to be still, and the cumulative effects were devastating. My world came crashing down around me, and just when I thought there was no turning back from the carnage, I had a moment of stillness.  A moment that would change my life from that time on in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

Have you ever been so upset that you’re having the ugly, snot running everywhere, rocking back and forth, gut-wrenching-till-you're-heaving-cry of one who has been emptied? When you can’t even produce the words to pray? I was in that place, when the word grace came to mind. As I sat there, rocking back and forth in my snot-covered state, I uttered grace over and over and over.

Then came the stillness.

I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and the knowledge that no matter what happened in my circumstances, I would be better than okay. God would bring me through it.

And he did.

Fast forward to today. He healed our marriage. We learned some hard lessons, but got through it and are even better for it. I lost some weight and started exercising and eating better. I learned to slow down, and even to embrace my weaknesses. Like Jacob’s limp and Paul’s thorn, I have chronic physical pain to remind me of this time, but as God said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but he (God) said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell within me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

Because of the rolling stops I apparently tend toward, I’ve made it a practice to not only fully stop, but also to take a deep breath at every stop sign before moving on. I guess you could call that a mini be still. In this busy season of my life, I know God smiles even upon the mini be stills.

Precious friend, where do you need to come to a full and complete stop and take a deep breath today? Where do you need to simply be still? Is it time with God? Self-care? A nap? An uninterrupted shower? Please comment below so we can share ideas for this vital practice.

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