For several years of childhood I struggled with very disturbing dreams. It got to the point that it was debilitating in terms of being able to fall asleep at night or even just being alone. This caused an anxiety that I carried around quite often, and nighttime was never a fun experience for me.
At the time, I didn’t have an in-depth theology of God and fear and anxiety. What five-year-old does? There were, however, some things I had learned about God, and in the many nights that my chest was pounding and I felt overwhelmed with a crippling fear, I knew that God was bigger. I knew if the Bible was true, God had made actual storms completely stop by telling them to “be still.” He healed sick people, he controlled lions, and He beat death itself.
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Most nights as I lay in bed, there were three passages that I quoted over and over again until I finally fell asleep. I clung to these verses, often through tears.
“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV).
In my weakness and fear, I didn’t know a lot as a very little child, but I did know and believe that there was power in the name of Jesus, that He was with me, and that He was in control.
I believe that the world is currently united in a unique way that has many in a place similar to what I’ve described above. Many are currently struggling with fear or the pain of isolation, and others with very threatening health risks as we struggle together against COVID-19.
I referenced above Jesus’ command to “be still” when He stopped the storm with His disciples (Matthew 8:23-27), but that isn’t the only time that “be still” is used in scripture. There is another verse that many of us are likely familiar with, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV).
This verse is quoted often, but there is more to that passage that I feel speaks strongly into this moment in time. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” (Psalm 46:10-11 ESV).
As an athlete or coach, you’ve probably had an abrupt “be still” spoken into your career more than once — whether through injury, sickness, or other circumstances. Our bodies need time to rest and recover. When they don’t get that recovery space, this is the time where some form of breakdown comes into play.
While in the past we’ve all had to take steps back from what our “normal” looks like, the uniqueness in our current situation is that many of us are now doing this collectively to fight against this pandemic.
As the temporary interruption to our schedule continues, I encourage you to consider that “Be still” is a command that many of us find little time to observe. Following that command is a promise: God will be exalted in the earth, he is with us, and he is our refuge.
We suddenly have some openness on the calendar that we aren’t so used to. So as we practice social distancing, I encourage you to press into spiritual closeness with the One who is always with us, is our refuge, and is in total control.
In the beginning, I shared about my struggles with dreams and anxiety as a child because of how simple my understanding of the world and God was at that point. I want you to know that wherever you are in your journey, God wants to meet you during this time.
No matter your struggle, He desires to journey with you in it. He is all-powerful, is in complete control, and He loves you.