In a neighbouring community there was a recent water main break. The result of which was a huge flood, most of it underground, and it created a monstrous sink hole on one of the main streets. The picture on the front page of the local paper was of a pickup truck being pulled out of the sink hole by a crane. In the picture the entire pickup, aside from the tailgate, is immersed in the water of this sink hole. This municipal disaster occurred about a year ago and now the municipality is replacing that same water main. In order to replace it they have to divert the water that normally flows through that main pipe to an older, smaller one. As a result of this work the municipality has issued a water ban in that community. No one is allowed to use any outdoor water for the duration of the summer. The reason the municipal government issued this ban is because they are afraid that the water pressure will get too low. If the water pressure drops in an old pipe the water itself gets more still, and then the contaminants from the pipe can enter the water and make it toxic. When I read this I felt that this water main was analogous to the human mind. Dr. Dan Allender in a sermon he gave at Willow Creek church talked about how when people are still, quiet, and meditating, people’s own mental and emotional toxins surface and it makes those people uncomfortable and even scared. This is likely why most people avoid being still and quiet.
John Piper talked about how modern man has lost the ability to think and I would concur with Mr. Piper. Because in order to think we must take the time to be still and focus, and most people do not believe thinking to be important enough to take time for. The most common addiction I see in counseling is the addiction to busy-ness. Very few people seem to believe busy-ness is harmful but I believe that it is attached to nearly every emotional issue that the average person brings into counseling. Busy-ness is an avoidance of stillness, and thus an avoidance of thought and meditation.
I feel that the proof of that is in the counseling experience itself. Counseling is based on the principle that people know the solutions to their own problems and a counselor is merely there to bring those solutions out. A counselor is there to quiet a client’s mind and help them to listen to how to God is directing them. Most often, people refuse to stop and listen likely because people hate being convicted, being told that their wrong, and that they have to change. When people stop to listen, when the water gets still, the toxins in our lives bubble to the surface and the pain, the insecurity, and the necessity for change that result can be scary.
But the scariness is a reality whether you choose to be still and face it or not, because living with these toxins in our lives is painful as well. The pain is not acute; it is not all at once. But over time our interactions with people are affected negatively by toxins, our relationship with God is affected negatively by toxins; our contributions through labor are affected negatively by toxins. The long term result of living with the toxins is a difficult and painful life.
The good news is that we may let the water be still and clean out the toxins with the power of Christ because God has more for you than this painful life (Jeremiah 29:11). Instead of seeking our temporary highs to help distract us from our toxins and our painful resulting life, we can have a life of peace and love. C.S. Lewis in his book `The Weight of Glory` writes about how people are too easily pleased ``like a ignorant child`` happy making mud pies because we cannot imagine how wonderful God`s version of happiness for us is.
To be still before God requires some courage and commitment. People need to have the courage to face where they have made mistakes and to face the pain those mistakes have caused them and their loved ones. Commitment to make changes regardless of the discomfort those changes may cause. Through prayer and seeking understanding via stillness and meditation, we can learn and accept change.
Neil T. Anderson is a good resource on learning how to be still and pray through difficulties. Mr. Anderson has discovered the importance of confessing before God at length, to pull out sin from the past that people have long forgot about but sin still hampers them. Mr. Anderson seems to understand that to clean out the toxins that impede people’s relationship with God will exponentially benefit their connection to God, and this will benefit their day to day lives. Anderson describes some examples in his book `The Bondage Breaker` about people making use of a good friend, pastor, or counselor, someone trusted, and bringing their prideful disobedience before God honestly and humbly. This is time consuming on top of being scary, but it needs to be priority.
“He (Jesus) He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm” Luke 8:24. And no toxins bubbled to the surface. The local municipality in that community that was earlier discussed, will likely never want to face the cost of time and money that it would take to clean that old pipe. Because of that an entire community is suffering, to a degree, and not meeting their potential. Their lawns are brown, their cars are dirty, and their gardens are failing. People of God need be more courageous than that municipality. They need to sacrifice the time and the cost to clean out the toxins in their lives, to face the fear and the cost of change. God is more than capable of sustaining us through that process. Be still and quiet, and do not fear what waits for you there.