Psalm 46: 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God
This verse came up earlier last week while I was conversing with my good friend, mentor, and brother Scott Rolff. He’s been a powerful voice at very unique and needed times in my life – such was the case last week. I mentioned to Scott that I once heard this verse explained by a bible teacher who said that the key to understanding the whole passage lies in understanding the word “still.”
It literally means to be limp. Totally and completely. Think of a wet noodle, or a newspaper caught in the rain, or a lifeless body – that’s what limp means. God tells us to stand before him, hands open, exhaling the air from our lungs – and stay there – limp.
Scott showed particular interest in this story and proceeded to tell me of a time when he went para-sailing behind a boat. For those unfamiliar, a parachute is let out from a retractable tie-line anchored to large large sport boat. And from the parachute, another cord attaches the para-sailor – the one crazy enough to be dragged around through the sky like a kite. Some people, have a high threshold of fear.
Now usually, the para-sailor stands on the back of the boat as the driver speeds up and lets out the chute so that when the wind catches the parachute, the sailor is lifted right off the deck of the boat. But Scott was telling me about this one time where he asked the driver to let him start from in the water so that he could feel the experience of getting pulled from the water and into the sky. To me, the thought of getting pulled from the water and the possibility that the drag of the water might pull my swim-trunks down around my ankles as I ascend into the sky doesn’t sound like fun (I’m sure it’s happened) – but this is Scott’s story. He goes on to tell me that the boat driver agreed to it, but warned him it was dangerous.
Essentially it would work like this: Scott would be in the water behind the boat, harnessed to the chute. The driver would have to pick up enough speed (with Scott still dragging behind the boat in the water) until the chute would catch enough air and pull Scott from the water. The tricky part was that in order to be pulled up, Scott would have to be totally and lifelessly limp – if he stiffened up he would increase drag and actually be pulled under deeper and deeper as the boat picked up speed.
As Scott tells the story, adrenaline only got him so far. The boat picked up speed and he freaked out, stiffened up, and went under the water. He went under so deep and fast that he remembers beginning to pass-out before the chute caught enough air to pull him out of the water.
Aren’t we just like that when God leads?
God says, “You have to trust me, you have to trust my hand if you’re really going to know me” – but we’re quick to freak out and attempt to hijack His plan. In the ancient world, knowledge was always talked about as an ascent. To know something, or someone was to ascend to them or to that level. “Be still and know that I am God…” So to know God, is to ascend to him, and to ascend to him, we must be limp. Like a para-sailor lifting out of the water. We must have limp surrendered spirits, limp surrendered wills, limp hearts and minds and THEN, we are pulled out and up to the knowledge of of God.
I don’t mean this to sound more mystical than it is. When I say ascend, I really mean experience. All through scripture when God invites us to know him, he’s not inviting us to know him like a text book, but to know him like a friend, a leader, a lover, and a father. But to ascend to knowing God in that way, we must be limp. We must surrender with more than words – we must throw up our hands, throw down our burdens, we must stop trying to force his hand on things that only he has determined their time of completion.
Scott texted me just yesterday: “He loves us so much that HE PUTS us in situations where we have to be limp.” Figuratively, he may even allow us to get to a place where we’re literally being pulled under the water and passing out – SO THAT he can pull us up to a saving knowledge of him.