When was the last time you were truly still?
And, I mean, truly. Not scrolling through Facebook on your phone while your favorite TV show plays in the background. Not driving down the highway, listening to a podcast or song. Not letting your mind wander as you pick up the kids' toys.
Really. And. Truly. Still.
It's hard to be still in today's world. I get it. I'm guilty. There's too much movement, too much energy, too many words to read and stories to tell.
All too often, during a long day of work and social engagements, I find myself thinking wistfully of all the nothing I'll accomplish when I get home. I'll put on my pj's and get in bed and rest my mind and that's it, I tell myself. But, hours later—when I finally get home, trudge upstairs, and push open my bedroom door—I forget all the nothing I had promised myself. I'll just clean up a bit, I tell myself. I'll just quickly make lunch for tomorrow. I'll just read a few articles on my phone. I'll just answer a few texts. Before I know it, it's 11pm and my mind is geared into overdrive. So much for doing nothing.
Learning How to Be Still
But this go—go—go lifestyle leaves me feeling unmoored. I know it is important to find time to pray, to check in with my soul, to be still and reflect on God's character. But I don't always know how to slow down. I'm addicted to being busy —and a little bit scared of what I'll discover about myself if I take the time to just be in God's presence.
But then I am reminded of the psalmists. In the psalms, the writers take time out of their days and nights to talk—and write—to God. They mourn, articulate fears, rejoice in hope, and cling to God for comfort. In Psalm 46 the psalmist writes:
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God." — Psalm 46:8-10a (ESV)
What happens when we're still? If the psalmist's words are any indication, what happens is this: we become intimately aware of God's power. We realize we are not the sole arbiters of our fate, but the beholders of God's work. When we know this—truly know this—by daring to be still and take in God's presence, we can say along with the psalmist:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. — Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)
This dwelling on God's strength and character grounds us. It helps us not be tossed around by busyness, so we can better withstand the tumultuous trials that arise in our lives and the world.
But it's hard to say these things with assurance when we don't have the time to dwell on God's goodness and the strength of God's character. And it's hard to find time to make time. It's easy to busy our minds and hands and hearts.
So, how can we rest in God? Henri Nouwen says:
The most simple way is to focus our minds and hearts on a word or picture that reminds us of God. By repeating quietly: 'The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want,' or by gazing lovingly at an icon of Jesus, we can bring our restless minds to some rest and experience a gentle divine presence. This doesn't happen overnight. It asks a faithful practice. But when we spend a few moments every day just being with God, our endless distractions will gradually disappear.
One spiritual practice that has helped me do this, and arrive at this assurance, is Scripture coloring pages. As I color in, or around, the Bible verses, I am able to slow down and meditate on God's words in God's presence.
To get started, print these free Scripture coloring pages featuring a Bible verse for you to reflect on as you color. Grab your colored pencils, crayons, or markers. Then follow these steps to get the most out of your time.
1. Create a Relaxing Environment
Find a relaxing place to color. This might be your favorite coffee shop, park, or your home study. It could be a library or your living room. If you choose to stay at home to color, declutter your coloring area. If you're sitting down at the dining room table, for example, move the bills, boxes, and any other reminders of your to-do list.
Pick some relaxing music to listen to: something that will help your mind settle and your heart rate slow down a bit. Grab your favorite mug and fill it with your favorite drink. Make yourself comfortable.
2. Focus and Quiet Your Mind
Once you sit down to color, take a few deep breaths. Breathe in as deeply as you can through your nose. Hold your breath for three seconds, then slowly exhale through your nose. You are beginning the process of focusing your mind.
If you feel guilty about spending time away from chores and duties to color, set a timer for 15 minutes. Until that timer rings, this is your time to relax and refocus your mind. Don't try to "accomplish" anything. You don't even need to complete the drawing!
Reflect on God's love for you. This is a special time between you and God. Remember that God likes you and wants to spend time with you (Psalm 147:11; Zephaniah 3:17). Ask God to be near you during this time.
3. Color, Think, and Pray
Draw inside (or outside!) the lines. Use this time to focus on the Bible passage on the page. Read the words aloud. Try focusing on each word. Meditate on what the verse means for you. Bring your thoughts and worries to God, who is with you as you color.
Is God saying anything to you today?
4. Take It with You
Reflect on what God is saying to you. Write it down as a reminder you can go back to throughout the day. Think of the ways you can live out that truth as you put your pencil down and go back into your day. Take the drawing with you in your notebook or put it on display in your house.
Ready to start coloring?Download free coloring pages
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