Monday, August 10, 2015

More Than A Nice Fridge Magnet

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
 he burns the chariots with fire.

 “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.
Psalm 46

Reflection – Sorry for my sudden lapse into ‘blog silence’ these past days– combination of busyness and fatigue, I’m afraid. Today’s psalm is one of the most beautiful in the whole psalter. In particular, the ‘Be still and know that I am God’ is, after ‘The Lord is my shepherd…’ one of the most quoted psalm verses, showing up on fridge magnets, bookmarks, and the like.

There is so little stillness in our world today. And so little knowledge of God. I wonder if the two are connected. We are an ADHD culture, flitting about from thing to thing, noise to noise, distraction here, diversion there. Taken up with whatever the latest scandal or outrage or titillation, be it Cecil the Lion or Caitlin Jenner or (ugh) Donald Trump.

So much noise to so little effect. So much fuss, fuss, fuss. So little stillness. And… so little knowledge of God. I can’t prove it, but I think it’s no coincidence that the rise of irreligion and atheism has pretty much tracked with the level of technological intrusion and ceaseless chatter in our world.

God is found in the depths of our hearts. The depths of our hearts are not available to us if we are constantly barraged or barraging ourselves with noise. The illiterate peasant of the Middle Ages had a deeper interior life than the college graduate of the 21st century, simply because his life was lived in a great silence surrounded by the mysteries and beauty of God’s creation.

There is little stillness, little knowledge of God, and so a great spirit of folly in our world today. Whether it is people so married to the absolute need for sexual autonomy that they will not admit that abortion ends a human life and so is not a Good Thing, or people so… well, I’m not sure what exactly, but so something or other that they are seriously considering electing a blowhard buffoon with a bad haircut and a filthy mouth president of the most powerful country on earth (and that’s all I will have to say on that subject), there is some terrible famine of wisdom, of basic attentiveness to truth, that bespeaks of a deep loss of interiority, of stillness, and of knowledge of God.

Psalm 46 is a needful psalm, not just a nice little fridge magnet, but a clarion call to change our way of life. If we continue to surround ourselves with noise and clamor and frivolous trivialities, borne along by whatever the zeitgeist dishes up each day, then we will continue to lack the most fundamental reflectiveness, wisdom, and essential seriousness of mind needed of adult human beings in this world.

God is real, God is a refuge and strength, God is our very present help in distress… but we need to be still to know this and act accordingly. Let us try to do so today—the world needs it, and we need it.

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