Seeking Stillness

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Earlier this week, it would have been my mom’s 67th birthday.  I say “would have” because she passed away 14 years ago just as she and I had become adult friends.  She loved my husband, and we all had eased into being adults together well.

I was only 21 when our daughter was born.  My mom had raised me to be a woman who could do anything she pursued; however, her most important role in my life as I moved into mommy-hood was to ensure that I believed in myself as a mother.  She treated me as if I were the best mother she had ever met who had the best children she had ever met (even when my son had colic for several months and did his best to prove her wrong).  The four generation photo above is from the day when Kerry and I graduated from college;  she and I stand together while Grandma Lois holds my daughter.

Several years later, just eight months prior to her death, my husband (host of this blog series) took his first senior pastor position at Faith Baptist Church in North Minneapolis.  My mom was so proud!

Within two months of Kerry starting the position at FBC, my mom was diagnosed with a rare and terminal cancer.  Although she tried a brief course of a trial drug, it became clear quite quickly that she would not benefit from that treatment.  The last three month of her life were a quick decline from high energy woman to a woman who spoke nonsense because the pain medications interfered with clarity of thought.

My mom’s life had not been easy.  Various circumstances, choices made both by her and by others, and being self-employed created a bit of chaos.  She worked hard, loved intensely, and championed her children as they became adults, the spouses as we married, and our children as we had them.

As the pain medications slowed her thinking, a different kind of chaos began.  Decisions had to be made, her businesses need attention, and everyone she loved and whom she loved tried to understand what it meant for her to be dying.

In the midst of all of this chaos, my mom stood firmly on the promise that the chaos around her did not determine her destiny after her death, nor did it steal the assurance she knew she could find in the knowledge of who God was, His love for her, and His redemptive plan for her life and the world as a whole.

My mom’s favorite verse, Psalm 46:10, comes in the of a psalm in which David first describes the truth that God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble and then continues to discuss a whole lot of chaos.  Natural events like the ones in the psalm continue to cause fear for us: rising flood waters threaten much of North Dakota again this year, and several earthquakes have devastated entire cities recently.  These “forces of nature” cannot be stopped even with all of our modern technology.

In the midst of it all, the psalmist encourages us to be still and know that God is God.  He is with us in our fears and in the scary and unfortunate circumstances to which no one seems immune.

Through it all, God is with us.  Through it all, God is our refuge.

We can stop letting the chaos pull us toward feeling chaotic.  Our refuge – the Creator of all that is, that was, and that will be provides a peace that cannot be understand simply because He is peace.

During my mom’s last week alive, many people visited her.  Some came with offers to pray for her – healing, comfort, and strength.  Most people left her presence in awe of her assurance that she was not alone and that God had not abandoned her.

Though her death was clearly imminent, she would not allow others simply to minister to her.  She wanted to minister to them.  As she sought to live the mandate to be still and know that God is God, she encouraged others to reflect on their situations and to live in that truth as well.

It is hard to believe that she has been gone for nearly 14 years now.  Though I am not good about always putting this lesson into practice, I do count myself as one of those who benefited from her attitude as she was dying.  Once in a while, when I am in a chaotic time and wish that I could call her, I realize that she would tell me to step back, to get still, and to focus on the truth that God is God.

Regardless of the circumstances around me and the view I have of how those things will go, the truth is that there is no chaos to God.  He is God.  He is my refuge.  I can seek stillness and be reassured that He is with me. Because of that, chaos cannot consume me.

Yvonne “Von” Schreier could have founded the blogging movement.  Prior to her death in 2003, Von had devoted her life to God’s service, her family, and the pursuit of lifelong learning.  For several years, Von had written a daily devotional and emailed it to an ever-growing list of readers. Stacy Bender, Von’s daughter, is married with two adult children and is the online programming director for a small hybrid online school in Minnesota.  Inspired in part by her mom’s writings as well as the encouragement of mentors and friends, Stacy embarked on a daily blog project on August 1, 2011, and continues – though not always daily or even monthly – into the present.

March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”