BE STILL!

A command and not an option, if you want to successfully navigate your life.

Recently something happened to me that disrupted my life in a way that made me angry.  I had plans, exciting plans and they had to come to a screeching halt because there was no way around the disruptor.  I was very unhappy, and angry with God as well, because He had allowed this to happen to me.  Afterall, I was on a mission for Him, and He should have circumvented this unwanted intrusion. “Hands over eyes emoji”.

As I reflect now, I am reminded that shortly before this STOP sign, there were other signs along the way.  It was the same signal, but it manifested in different ways.  The signal read, ‘Be Still’. It started when a brother of mines, Edward Amponsah, miles away, released a song entitled, ‘Be Still’.  Then I was watching the home-going celebration of a past student of mines, and one of the readings was taken from Psalm 46.  That’s when I began to suspect that something was going on that I needed to pay attention to.  But I still didn’t put much weight on the message

Later, I picked up my phone and realized that I had gotten a notification of a Live YouTube broadcast by Russell Walden, a man of God whose ministry I respect.  I decided to listen – (you can begin listening from 4:19 mins if you wish). His main scripture was taken from Psalm 119:114 “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word”.  As he shared his thoughts, he began to say that sometimes God is trying to hide us for a season, but we are sending up flares to let everyone know where we are.  That it’s okay to not always be in the limelight.  That’s all I needed to hear to convince me that God was talking to me.  I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

 All of this was happening within the space of a couple of days.  Well to add icing to the cake, with a cake-topper marked ‘Be Still’, God made sure that I didn’t go to the church that Sunday Morning.  I stayed home and tuned in to my Boston church family’s Facebook page (Shekinah Glory International Ministries – from 19:00 mins).  Prophetess Hannah began singing… that’s right, ‘Be Still’ which segued into ‘Oceans’, two songs which I recorded, and you can listen to by clicking the links.   At that point I began to sing with the team and the rest is history.  Suffice it to say, I proceeded to hide, rest and Be Still. 

Be Still.  I believe that translates to mean different things for different people.  The variables attached to this command would be times and seasons.  According to where you are and what you are doing, you will know what you need to do to Be Still.   

For me it meant to unplug from social media and be quiet; minimize the amount of time I spent communicating with others on WhatsApp; and not letting anything from the outside penetrate my soul.  I needed to rest.  I needed to cease from striving for myself and others.  It meant that I wouldn’t be able to immediately share my thoughts and feelings with family and friends.  But that was okay.  I understood the assignment.

Sometimes we feel that if we stop the whole world will collapse around us.  But soon enough we find out that what we have to offer is only important when it’s released in the season that God has ordained for us to share it in.  Otherwise, we need to be quiet.

So, what does ‘Be Still’ look like for you?

  • Maybe you need to hold your speech for a while
  • Maybe you need to withdraw your company – cut back on your social interactions
  • Maybe you need to deactivate your social media pages for a while
  • Maybe you need to take a vacation away from the familiar and/or soul-searing situations
  • Maybe it’s time to listen to the angry timber in your voice that makes your family and friends scurry for cover
  • Maybe it’s time to pay attention to the nagging tension in your neck, the frequent occurrences of throbbing headaches, and the incessant screaming of the pain in your lower back
  • Maybe it’s time to listen to the still, small voice of the One who loves you beyond words and wants the best for you.

Finish this sentence.  ‘Be Still’ for me means that I…

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Enjoying a moment of rest
Meads Bay, Anguilla

As I pen my thoughts, I am in the season of ‘Be Still’ but it does not mean that I stop thinking or writing.  It means that I quiet my mind (soul) and all the external noises, so that I am better able to hear what my Father wants to say to me in this season; so that I can be more efficient and effective in the next.

It means that I will realize new growth and fresh perspective to fully embrace the new season when it comes.  It means that in being still I will focus on getting to know the one that has called, chosen, and commissioned me for such a time as this.

Consequently, to keep this in context, I’ll like to quote the entire clause. It says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). So, in my case, I’m not just being still for being still sake. In my Being Still, my time will be spent in communion with my El Shaddai, developing my relationship with Him as we become one, sitting at His feet, meditating on His every Word, and receiving instructions for the way forward.

As I read the verse again, I realize that it is a command.  Since God is the one who gave it, there is obviously nothing wrong with Being Still, but there is everything wrong with not knowing when it’s time to Be Still.  Six of one, half a dozen of the other.  You have a choice to make.  Be Still or you will be made to Be Still.  I chose the former.  Which will you choose?

Sunset at Meads Bay, Anguilla

SEASONS: WINTER VS SPRING

It was 59 degrees – a little windy and overcast but beautiful weather for a long walk. Mr Love had sent me something and I decided to walk to go get it.  As usual walking gives me the kind of sensory scope that breathes life into an otherwise ordinary day.  As I began to look at the vegetation around me, I am reminded again about seasons.  It is winter here, but it is evident that spring is announcing her inevitable arrival, not too long from now.  My mind began to vibrate with excitement as creative juices started to flow.  I stopped for a couple of minutes to make a note in my phone.  Here it is.

Nice day for a walk

As long as the earth remains, seed time and harvest will always be a universal law that exists.  Seed time and harvest are activities that happen within certain seasons.  They herald preparation of the soil, sowing, and reaping.  They signal specific times when everything either looks dormant or alive.

Winter can be very overpowering, but at an appointed time, Spring pushes her way through.  And she doesn’t just push through.  She shows off.  She can’t help it.  But there is no denying that winter provided everything possible for Spring to be as indisputably beautiful as she is.  Winter provides the perfect canvas which highlights all the brilliant sights and sounds of Spring.  So don’t hate on Winter.  He is just a conduit.  A facilitator for all that Springs forth.

Now as this relates to us.  Please don’t try to measure your life or seasons by anyone else’s yardstick.  How do you know what they’ve had to endure in their Winter or how much they’ve lost because of it?  Do you even know how hard they’ve had to hold on just to make it to Spring? 

The other thing is, it depends on where you are, your winter or spring may come sooner or last longer.  There are so many variables that can affect the changing of the seasons.   My encouragement to you is, mind your own seasons.  Learn from what you are experiencing and don’t forget to pay it forward.  Everyone’s experience is different because we are different.  But I am quite sure that there are some nuggets that you can unearth from my experiences that can and will inform how you live through your seasons and vice versa. 

Live, Love, Laugh and Grow 

Life is what you make it, you know

You’re only given one on this side of eternity

Live it well, to the best of your ability

Copyright @ Susan Best 2020

SEASONS

November 29. It is almost winter again!  I am prepared!

Presently I live in a warmer climate, but where I am experiences the four seasons as where I was.  Around September this year, I realized that it will begin to get chilly very shortly and I began to get really concerned.  I had left all of my winter stuff in storage back where I migrated from.  To be honest, I was more than concerned.  I was becoming frantic in my mind because it was my intention to return and collect my winter duds before the temperature would begin to drop in both places.  Granted, where I was coming from had harsher winters than where I had settled.  So, the plan was to get back there before it really got uncomfortably cold for me, so that I would be prepared for a much milder winter here.

I returned and what I noticed is that, although it was colder than where I left, I was able to endure it. I was prepared mentally and physically for whatever the temperature would have been.  A totally different scenario to last year when it was my first time experiencing minus zero temperatures, hail, storm and snow.  But praise God, I survived and even thrived.  I pushed through and made it to Spring, Summer, Fall/Autumn and now my second Winter.

Last year, I remember speaking with someone who had lived in that environment for many years, and they wanted to winter in a warmer climate.  Ding!  That gave me an idea.  I was due to make half a century and made plans to celebrate it with my family and friends – in the islands.  Yes!  Warmth!  Sun!  Who wouldn’t want that!  I would go down to celebrate and stay until winter was over.  What a cop out!  But how many of you know that God is something else.  I called one of my sister-friends and was telling her about how uncomfortable I was and what I was planning to do.  She didn’t tell me what to do but she said as gently as she does, ‘on your journey it is best to experience the full circle of the seasons’.  She said, ‘if you don’t go through the winter, you will not be able to appreciate the spring and what it has to offer’.

I received what she said, pondered it in my heart and boarded the plane with enough clothes to last for 3 months anyway.  I got to the USVI and one day I got into my sister’s car, turned on the radio and this song by Hillsong called Seasons came on the radio and I was floored. I don’t want to spoil the discovery for you by writing the lyrics here, so I’ll advise you to click on the word ‘Seasons’ above and listen for yourself. Suffice it to say,  I broke down and began crying because I knew what I had to do. I had never heard the song before, so I knew in that moment that God was saying to me, ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’.  In other words, winter may be uncomfortable right now, but spring is coming.  

He is saying the same thing to you as you read this little love note.  I know it’s hard right now.  There seems to be no end to your discomfort, and you wonder if anybody cares.  I’m here to tell you that, I care and most of all God cares.  He created the seasons and they all have their purpose. Trust Him. He will carry you through.

Here are a few things I heard God said to tell you.

  1. Stop despising, cursing and minimizing your season. They may not all be God-created, but they are certainly God-ordained/allowed. (Sometimes we enter seasons because of decisions we made in a previous season.)
  2. Embrace the present.  As difficult as it may seem, the quicker you surrender to the pressing and the refining process, the more fruitful your understanding will be. There is something to be learned from what you are going through.  Ask God to show you.
  3. Prepare for the next season – especially spiritually.  (Develop a relationship and prayer life with your Father that will sustain you in any season. Practice putting on your whole armour so that it becomes second nature every day)
  4. Pay It Forward. What you learn was not only for your benefit. Be quick and open to helping someone else.  Not because you had a difficult adjustment/time means that everyone else should. My friends dispensed information such as what weight underclothes to buy for the colder months; what is black ice;  and that I needed to take vitamin D during the winter because of diminished sunlight etc. 

Additionally, this is what I’ve learned as I progressed through the seasons of my life and more so for the last 16 months.  What you do not confront, work through, or pass, you are doomed to repeat/revisit.  Some people are of the impression that if you don’t acknowledge something, it will go away eventually.  I beg to differ because again, there came a time when I had to ‘sit a test’ that I had exempted myself from almost 30 years before.  Seasons are cyclical. What you sow in one you will reap in the other. The converse is true. You don’t sow. You can’t reap.

So I was presented with this situation and I recognized it for what it was.  I had seen it before and had failed miserably. This time I decided to face it head on.  It involved me conversing with someone about a decision I had made, and I was a bit apprehensive because of their personality.  But I knew that I had grown.  Life had forced me to grow and that growth was reflected spiritually, mentally, and especially relationally where I was no longer as afraid to speak my heart on any matter.  

I consulted God about timing and wording, presented myself for the test and I am happy to say that I passed with flying colors.  I was now ready to move on to bigger and better and even more difficult circumstances, but I had growth on my side.

This is the benefit of ‘growing through’ your seasons.  It might be a case of ‘which comes first – the chicken or the egg’ in terms of when you first realize that your life experiences are seasonal.  But wherever you find yourself, recognize it for what it is.  

Winters may be dreary, cold, wet and just uncomfortable and yet beautiful. It depends on your perspective. But what is true is that they force you to reevaluate your life and what is important.  You have to be more conscious.  You have to slow down.  You tend to spend more time with the people whose company you value, such as close family or friends and therefore, your communication skills and coping skills are sharpened.  Just like the plants, you shed the old and unnecessary to make room for the new and better – and that sometimes also means people.

Beautiful winter white

Spring comes eventually, and literally it speaks of new life.  Vegetation takes root and begin to grow having been dormant during the winter months. During the winter you had the time to reevaluate your life and now it’s time to put some of those resolutions into gear.  You begin to shed the heavier clothes for lighter ones as you slowly warm up.

Summer brings unabashed warmth and the opportunity to just be fancy free and footloose. Sometimes being too loose to the point where if you are not careful you make decisions that can negatively affect your life for generations. So, in the summer it’s important to enjoy yourself, but you also need to keep in mind that the season will change. What you do in the summer should enhance or positively contribute to your life and not take away from it.

Fall/Autumn is a beautiful time.  It’s not too hot and not too cold.  The leaves begin to turn those orange, burgundy and gold colors we love to see, as plants and trees begin to grow dormant during this season.  Crops are most likely planted between fall and winter and that timespan varies depending on geography, climate and weather conditions.  In this season you know that summer is past, but you’ve harvested and have gathered what you need to go through the winter months.  It’s in this season that you better be ready, or winter could be harsher for you than it is for others who would have taken steps to prepare. 

My coming away from the islands and living in an environment where the seasons are distinct and separate periods of time and function, really brought home to me that we too experience seasons in our lives.  It would be to our benefit to adopt this metaphor for life as the Bible says, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22) and “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). There you have it!  From the mouth of the Creator Himself.  

Seasons are here to stay. They look differently for each individual, but we will all experience them. Let us stop.  Be intentional about our lives. Let us remember that we are here today and may be gone tomorrow. The seeds that we sow, the lessons that we learn are paid forward whether we are conscious or not. Let us be guided accordingly.  It makes for, not necessarily easier, but smoother seasonal transitions.  Enjoy! Shalom!