What do you do on the beach? I’m here now on vacation with my family, and my brain doesn’t get how to chill. I’ll sit out in the sun for a bit, but shortly thereafter my mind nags me to walk, write or devour books to keep it busy. You see, its automatic is fastness. Going. Doing. It time-travels even when I’m in the most peaceful places, places where worries should not go. In the midst of paradise, my brain tells me we’re not doing enough. It asks where life will take us next, and who with. Does this ever happen to you?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful my family is able to go on nice vacations and for a few days off work. But empty quiet time is hard for me. It gives my mind freedom it doesn’t know what to do with. It makes it obvious to me that I have no five-year-plan or boyfriend to do beachy things with. Well-meaning family members ask about whether I’m going to grad school soon. I just feel anxious. I love school and want to get back into it. But I don’t know where God’s calling me yet. What I do know is that the harder I try to avoid the stillness, the less I hear from God and the more restless I feel.
So this morning, overlooking the ocean, I read Psalm 139 aloud several times. Earlier in the week, I’d “happened” to flip open to this verse, then it “happened” to be the basis of my church’s worship night on Friday. I revisited it today, thinking maybe God wants to show me something through it. Obviously, He did.
With Psalm 139, God reminded me of His sheer magnitude and sovereignty that I often overlook. Usually I think I’m the one letting Him in on the things that are going on in my life. But the truth is, He already knows and understands everything about me. He knows when I’m holding back the deepest details from him. He knows I doubt His presence sometimes and I’m scared about the future. He knows I fear that I’ll never love again. He knows I’m uncertain about what I want to do with “the rest of my life.” He knows my every sin. He knows ALL of me, and the entire universe.
This makes me uncomfortable because I know my own crazy thoughts, but also relieved and amazed. It’s humbling that He even cares to know so much about me. Who I am to deserve a moment of His attention? That’s the thing—I don’t. It’s only through this grace. It’s amazing He knows all the doubts and fears and sins I have and doesn’t hate me. In fact, He loves me more than I can even comprehend. It’s so much easier to talk to Him openly when I realize He already knows my entire backstory, every intricacy and thought. He’s not afraid of my truths. He can handle them all. He knows exactly how it is, and how it’s going to work out.
This morning as I was lifting up my concerns to him about life and not getting how to do this whole adult thing, “Be still and know I’m God” dropped into my mind, followed by, “Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be given to you.” These are bits of Psalm 46:10 and Matthew 6:33.
So that’s something I’m working on: more being and less doing. And seeking God first. I’m staring out at the ocean as I write this, marveling at how vast and powerful it is. I’m in awe that the God who knows every detail about me also makes its proud waves halt neatly at the shoreline (Job 38: 11). I’m making peace with the fact that I can’t see the other side—of it or the rest of my life. I’m trying to wrap my mind around how God knew every day of my life before I was even conceived (Psalm 139: 16) and accepting that I just can’t. He’s too great. And after a long talk with my grandparents over breakfast about their young adult years, I’m starting to see that life is infinitely less structured than I would like. And God is infinitely larger than I can comprehend.
There is no right path. We will all get “there” in time. And while we determine our next steps, God says, “Be still and know that I’m God. Seek me first.” He tells us to just be still and appreciate where we are right now, to recognize how far He’s already carried us. I worry about tomorrow, but God has always provided for all of my needs. It’s when we’re still, not running, that we can see that. It’s then that we can meditate on God’s character and capacity. We catch a glimpse of who He is and all He knows. And it stuns us. It makes us at peace with what’s to come. I think that’s the point.
I’ll probably need to revisit this practice every day forever because not knowing makes me uncomfortable. But at least I’m realizing that I’ve been focusing on the wrong details. Rather than considering tomorrow and the next day, I need to focus on who God is, all He knows. Doing that shrinks me down to my proper size and magnifies God. That remolds my brain. It energizes my faith and inspires my trust. It makes me confident in His control over my life, and that everything will all work out better than I can plan.
At the beach or otherwise, the key to reclaiming peace and figuring out your next step is not doing more, but less. It’s taking a moment to be be still and know, really know, that God is God. You’re not. It’s thanking God for the blessings you find yourself with today.
Hoping you have a happy, present and restful Thanksgiving,