Pastor Jean Newell, Sun Lakes United Methodist Church
“Detoxed!” That’s how someone recently described what happened one weekend at a spiritual retreat. “We couldn’t wear our watches or use our phones or access to computers. We spent three days being detoxed from the world.”
I hadn’t thought of it like that, but that’s exactly what the weekend was like. For those who were on the retreat for the first time, there were no appointments to keep, no schedules to follow, no deadlines to meet, for we were on God’s time. No ringing phones to answer, no text messages or email alerts that needed or demanded attention. Instead, there was time to spend with God.
The psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10) How hard it is to “be still” in today’s world for our senses are constantly being bombarded.
We live in a world of surround sound. Surround sound is more than a movie theater design that provides patrons with the full “experience” in which you feel vibrations from a movie’s background music, a car chase or a thundering herd of wild animals. Surround sound is a part of our everyday life, from the microwave beeping to let you know your food is ready, the car alarm when you hit the wrong button on the key fob or the keypad at the ATM. There’s sound all around us.
We live in a world seeking to gain our attention through “visual effects.” Countless billboards, overhead highway signs and gas station pumps are digitized in order to provide the public with the latest product updates, upcoming events and public safety. Everywhere we look, there is something to see.
So, short of pulling a hat over one’s head to shut out the sights and sounds of the world, the world is not going to discontinue beeping, buzzing and flashing lights. To “be still” is a matter of being proactive in one’s intention rather than reactive to the surrounding world. One can “be still” by setting aside that which distracts and by focusing on being still with God, whether that means resting in one’s favorite chair, walking under a moon-lit sky or sitting on a beach. To “be still” is not the way of the world, but it is the way of those who chose to follow God.