A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to the idea that everyone has a central question. Something they are always asking themselves that often becomes a driving force in their lives. It can be different for everyone, but I think that we all do have something like this hiding somewhere in the back of our minds.
For me, the question is, “Am I useful?”
I always want to make sure that I am contributing something or that I’m pulling my own weight. At its core, it isn’t good or bad. It simply is. But, the way that it plays out can be healthy and positive or very dysfunctional.
One of the positive expressions of this are that I have a natural desire to learn. Learning new things helps me to be able to do more things, it helps me to connect with more people and to approach people with greater understanding. It also means that I’m not generally the lazy type, I like to be out doing things and being productive. When I focus myself on positive things, this is really good and beneficial in my life.
The negative side of this question plays out in my general resistance to practicing sabbath well, my historically unhealthy sleep habits, and a tendency to take on too many things which leads me towards burnout. I’m not very good at resting and sometimes I even fall into the trap of being proud of myself for overworking. I can remember moments in my undergraduate when I bragged to other people about how little sleep I had from studying or working on papers or the time that I worked myself so hard with so little sleep that I actually experienced hallucinations.
Let me set the record straight. While I may have been proud of those behaviours before, I now recognize that this type of behaviour is not healthy, it is not admirable, and it is not the way that things should be.
These unhealthy actions driven by this question of usefulness. An incessant need to prove my own value and worth in any given situation. An understanding of my do-it-all-myself tendencies is why Psalm 46 is a particularly important passage of scripture to me.
Psalm 46 is about relying on God. I’m not very good at relying on others, I want to be a contributor. I wrestle with stepping back and just accepting God’s care in my life and if I’m not paying attention, I can easily fall into a trap of trying to do everything in my own strength. So, from time to time, I need this wonderful reminder found in Psalm 46:10,
“Be still and know that I am God”
Be still and know. It should be simple but in the thick of life it can seem like anything but… When I was on my gap year missions trip, the leader of our team saw right through my exterior and saw me trying, day in and day out, to prove my value to everyone else. I tried to work the hardest and do the most and be the most spiritual… all in an attempt to prove that I was useful. Seeing this, he wrote me a note with Psalm 46:10 and gently reminded me that there was nothing that I could do to make God love me any more or less than He already does. God sees me in my entirety and loves me fully. All I need to do is be still and know that He is God.
In the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on ideas related to vulnerability, sabbath, and personal value. This Psalm has been a wonderful spot to ground myself. In the midst of turmoil, confusion, or feeling like I’m just not big enough to handle whatever is being thrown my way I can be reminded to be still and to remember God as my refuge and strength.
As part of a project this year, I made a video of Psalm 46. Producing the video was an awesome experience of worship and I’m going to share it here in the hope that it can be helpful for you to reflect and be encouraged.
Maybe for just these two minutes you would be willing to try to be still and know that He is God.