It didn’t take long to recognize that this highest bidder’s new treasure was too small! But… he can be kinda persistant sometimes. So… determining that “maybe it is supposed to be tight like this,” he insistently kept trying to squeeze into it. Instructing me to close the zipper as he tucked every last inch of flesh in, we finally got it zippered!
Bonnie: “So…how is it?”
Gary: Huffing, “Tight!”
Bonnie: Is it gonna work?”
Gary: Breathlessly, “I don’t think so. I can’t breath too good!”
By this time we are laughing!
Bonnie: “Should we take it off?”
Gary: Gasping for air, “Yeah, I think so.”
Unzipping it brought relief and a deep breath of much needed air! Assuming the next step would be a piece of cake, Gary began to take his arms out, but to no avail!
Gary: “Could you help me?”
Bonnie: “Sure. What do you want me to do?”
Gary: “Just pull on the cuff while I pull my arm out.”
That sounded easy enough. So, we determinedly began to tug in opposite directions. Like a Chinese finger trap, the more we pulled the tighter it squeezed his arm! We rolled in laughter all over again; that is, until I noticed that Gary’s expression had shifted to one of panic!
Have you ever been in a situation when you felt like
you were responsible for making something happen
and the more you strained to meet the expectation,
the more you felt like life was being squeezed out of you?
I used to approach many situations and often even relationships in the same way as Gary & I approached trying to get him out of that wet suit. I saw it as my job to “conquer” and “make” something happen according to my timing! When it seemed as though things weren’t going in quite the “right” direction or happening quickly enough, my tendency was to panic and work even harder. Like Gary relentlessly struggling to strip himself of the increasing constriction, my persistent determination drained even more life out of me!
For years, the Lord would gently remind me, “Bonnie, Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 146:10). For years, I didn’t really get it! Paradoxically, I resolved to work really hard at learning to “be still!” Consequently, even in prayer or reading Scripture, I found myself straining to understand this and laboring to figure out that, planning one thing and organinzing another. Physically still or not, my brain was always toiling! In fact, a friend once asked my husband, “Does her brain ever shut off!”
I clearly recall when the Lord resolutely said to me, “Bonnie! Stop striving!” Finally, I got it! There was something about that word, “striving” and His tone that helped me to understand what it meant to “be still.”
Obstinate self-sufficiency is not God’s will;
nor is being over-whelmed;
nor becoming sick over a perceived responsibility.
Any time we find ourselves striving to accomplish something,
we can be certain that we’re attempting to place ourselves
in a role which is not ours to fill!
Yes, we are capable of accomplishing a great deal, from the world’s perspective, in our flesh! However, at some point, that fleshly determination will be drained out of us and our weakness will become evident.
The Hebrew term raphah is translated, “be still.” It can mean “relax your grip,” or “to be weak.” The ability to acknowledge one’s weakness characterizes those who understand that they are finite and God is not! When we have a spiritual revelation of who He is, when the “knowing” runs deeper than the mind, only then will we “relax our grip!” Only then will we be capable of “being still.”
While there is tremendous freedom and peace in resting in this revelation, I’m not saying that we won’t be hard pressed or perplexed. I’m saying that when it feels as though life is being squeezed out of us, we will not despair (2Corinthians 4:8-9)! Instead, we will be able to confidently sing,
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
- Katharina von Schlegel