Be Still, Hurried Thoughts on Silence

by Michael Gallup

The next five Mondays I will be exploring Psalm 46 and the issue of silence. This series of blogs are adaptations of a sermon I wrote in 2009. 

February 16 was like any Monday, busy. I woke up late and skipped quiet-time in favor of finishing my homework for Greek class and studying for our daily vocabulary quiz. I did well on it and then went to Adolescent Literature after that where I had another quiz. I was in class till eleven and then I was off to take care of some pressing matters. After scarfing down my lunch, I rushed over to the conference room to get fitted for graduation. I then squeezed in a visit to the Administration building to take care of some business matters before my one o’clock. After that class I had a handful of meetings to address and then I began to work on the next day’s assignments before going home.

On my way home, I snuck into the Humanities building to check out the art exhibit, but I did not linger long; I had a lot of work to do. As I left the building, I attempted to cover the fifty yards between the door and my truck as quickly as possible. Yet, in the midst of my dash, I felt an inner plea of divine grace, a spark of mercy begging me to look up.

So, I obliged and I was stunned at what I saw: God’s glory spelled out in the stars. How often had I passed-by such awesome exhibitions of God’s grandeur? In this moment I was reminded that God was indeed with us, that He is huge and the He is beautiful. Something deep within me begged me to stop and stare. However, I agreed to merely slow down my stride; I had more important things to do.

Later that evening, I continued the busyness of the morning. Yet in the midst of my work load, I encountered something marvelously ironic and hauntingly challenging, a verse from Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still.

These simple words hit me like a ton of bricks. I had read this verse of Hebrew poetry hundreds of times and it had produced similar effects in me as a witty bumper sticker or a Hallmark greeting card might. And yet, as I read them again for the first time, that same spark of mercy that pleaded for me to enjoy the view of the Milky Way, lit fire within my heart and I knew that these words were just for me, just as they had been for countless other saints and sinners before me.

In the thick of the insanity of life nothing could quench my thirsty soul more than these words. I needed them like I have ever needed anything. “Be still and know that I am God.”

Michael is a busy person surrounded by grace. He is a student at Denver Seminary and an aspiring church planter. You can read his blog, A Sprig of Hope, by clicking here.



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6 responses to “Be Still, Hurried Thoughts on Silence

  1. Georgie-ann

    Amen. I had an art teacher in my senior year in college who “opened” a window to spiritual perception and understanding that was extremely revolutionary for us student “rats,” running in our perpetual circles, around and around in our campus maze, taking everything “for granted” just as “givens;” unreflectively meeting one demand/requirement after another,…caught in a performance cycle whose beginning was long-forgotten, and whose end wasn’t even “in focus,” although it would inevitably soon come with abrupt finality.

    One fine “fair weather” day, he brought us all out of the classroom lecture hall, and had us line up at one end of the sizable venerable old ivy-covered quadrangle. Smiling slightly, he simply said, “OK,…Now, go to the other end of the quadrangle,”…and nothing more,…

    Like a shot, we all took off running. Basically, it resembled a massive, but fairly cacophonous, race — almost but not quite. He took his time coming to join us, which I’m sure we all attributed very smugly to his being “older,” until he said, now laughing, “I didn’t say you had to run!,…but you all did!” He said, “You could have walked and looked around, appreciated the sunshine, felt the breeze! What’s your hurry??!!”

    Well,…it didn’t take long for us to “get the point” and feel really embarrassed! I have never forgotten that day, along with a few of the other “exercises” that he assigned throughout the course of the course. Overall, it was a wonderful experience — certainly easy enough, but unusually challenging to the “status quo” at the same time. Some of these things were actually able to make “proud” college seniors feel as if they were just beginning another kind of “kindergarten” in a realm heretofore “unsuspected.”

    I have to give this course, and the teaching/teacher, credit for helping to “open my eyes” in a new way. We also had exercises in cultivating deliberate “stillness.” It was my real beginning in the quest to “Be still and know that I am God.”

  2. Michael Gallup

    Georgie-Ann, that is an amazing story, what a blessing to have a teacher like that.

  3. Georgie-ann

    Truly! The teacher, I found out later, was associated with a group of very successful (early, black & white film) photographers, who made a very strong point of studying “awareness” and perception, as an important part of how they photographed for “artistic” purposes. Part of their “being” an artist in this way, would have a spiritual dynamic that would be perceptible in (and communicate through/be “felt” in) their photographs. I believe Ansel Adams, with the incredible rocky landscape photos, was one of them — at some point along the way.

    Very inspiring and “eye opening” for me! I enjoy taking “quiet time” in a scenic spot with a camera ready for special moments — even those “happening” in the sky! Try it! You might like it!


  4. Michael: Oh be quiet! Just kidding. Great blog. I’d say more but I’m busy and have to run. Eugene

    • Michael Gallup

      I know, I’ve been running around all day trying to get up on…well, everything. We should seek some stillness together soon.

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