Psalm 46: 10a He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;”
In the late 18th century Norwegian border patrol troops used their free time by combining their top two skills – shooting guns and cross-country skiing. They created a competition to see who could ski the fastest and shoot most accurately. They called the event “military patrol”. Military patrol became a demonstration sport in the 1924 Olympics and an official sport “biathlon” in the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Biathlon is challenging; imagine skiing all out for up to 20km and stopping at shooting ranges (each with 5 targets) where you need to still yourself to be able to hit the 1.6-inch-wide targets from 160 feet. Two-time U.S. Olympic biathlon competitor, Sara Studebaker-Hall explains: “The example we give to people is it’s like running up a flight of stairs as fast as you can and then trying to thread a needle.” Biathletes are in and out of the shooting ranges in 20-25 seconds and in that time, they have to zone out their competitors firing shots on either side of them, and somehow shoot at the end of their breath and between heartbeats. In this time, they’re able to reduce their heartbeat from 90% of their max. to 60-70% max.
The world around us can become one crazy place and today certainly is no exception. In such times we can find our mind racing as we see and hear the world around us in chaos. While the challenges of today are unique in themselves, world turmoil is certainly not unprecedented. If you read through the Bible you see story after story of wars and calamity. If you read your history books you are hard-pressed to find a generation that did not endure the hardships of war, famine and disease. As Christians, what does God say to us in such times? King David is the model I look to of what a follower of God should look like in times of crisis, after all God considered him “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). His life was often in jeopardy, even at the hands of his own son Absolom (2 Samuel 17: 1-3). In these darkest of times David cries out to the Lord (Psalm 40, 69, 80, 86). But David also always comes back to the same place, that is a recognition that God is his only answer. Psalm 46 provides such encouragement. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (vs. 1) God spoke to David, and he speaks to us in these troubling times, telling us that we need to be still. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; (vs. 10a).
David also speaks of a river in Psalm 46 that God provides “whose streams make glad the city of God” (vs. 4a). As a child I have fond memories of our cottage where we had a slowly flowing river that ran through the property. I would often head down early in the morning, sit at the edge and cast my fishing line into the river and watch my bobber gently drift downstream. There was something incredibly calming about watching the water gently float by. David uses the analogy of water again in Psalm 23: 2-3b: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”
You may not have access to a physical river, but in these times of turmoil God is calling you to his river of spiritual peace. And this peace begins with becoming still. For a time, turn off your phone, get away from your screens and the barrage of information and fear, and just be still. Close your eyes, take some deep calm breathes and meditate on God, sitting beside his quiet waters. Read through Psalm 46. Be still and know that He is God.