I have been trying to learn how to “be”—as in “Be still and know…” It is so hard to downshift, to stop my mind from doing NASCAR laps, to stop “doing” and truly disengage. So hard. Our 21st century American culture is not friendly toward such an attitude.
But here we were, my wife and I, two weeks in the mountains, on what many would call “vacation.” But it was more than that; it was a gift of time to slow down, even to stop, and to learn more about “being.” It took several days to downshift from high gear to medium gear. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever make into low gear… and then on day five…
I started this blog series awhile back called “The Church is a Mystery” with the tagline “Exploring How God Shows up at Church.” I have been posting one blog per week on the many varied churches that we have been able to attend, and exploring the incredible diversity of places that make up the Body of Christ. This post is a bit different.
As we spent this time in the mountains, I felt like I was in church much of the time (“church” defined as a place to encounter God, not as an “ekklesia” assembly of believers). I was in God’s cathedral, surrounded by His creative masterpieces, and I had the time (and took the time) to listen, and to look, and to be still.
Early in the morning of our 5th or 6th day, I had to take our puppy out for a “necessary” walk. As I drowsily stepped outside, I was jerked awake by the colorful splendor of the sunrise on the still snow-covered mountains. That evoked an extended meditation on the fact that God is a God of color. His creation is full of color, all kinds of color. Trees, plants, flowers, sky, sunrise/sunset, oceans, rocks, beaches, animals.
But what colors did God choose to dominate His creation? As I gazed around me, I saw mostly green and blue. Plants, trees, grass, crops—green. Sky, oceans, water—blue. Even from space the earth appears mostly blue. My mind wandered. Why did God choose green and blue to be the major colors of His creation?
My amazing bride did some research for me and discovered that green has strong emotional correspondence with safety; it has great healing power. Green is the most restful color for the human eye. And blue is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, faith, and truth. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect and is strongly associated with tranquility.
So think about this: when God decided what color to use for the trees and grass and leaves and most plant life, He chose a color that is restful. And when He decided what color to make the sky and waters and oceans, He chose a color that is calming and peaceful. He didn’t choose red, which increases respiration rate and raises blood pressure. He didn’t choose orange or yellow, which cause stimulation. He chose restful, calming colors. Or, He determined that those colors would be restful and calming! Or, however He did it!
So what did God say to me as I met with Him in the mountains? Rest. Slow down. Be calm. That is how you will hear from me. And getting out into creation is a good way to rest, surrounded by calming colors. Elijah discovered that God speaks in a still, small voice. Jesus needed to get alone so He could hear from His Father. We need to take time to be still. I would argue that is the only way we will get to know God—by slowing down, being quiet, resting, letting the calming colors of green and blue minister to our spirits.
A.W. Tozer, who certainly knew his God, had this to say on the topic:
“God now speaks by the wind and the earthquake only; the still small voice can be heard no more. The whole religious machine has become a noisemaker. The adolescent taste which loves the loud horn and the thundering exhaust has gotten into the activities of modern Christians. The old question, ‘What is the chief end of man?’ is now answered, ‘To dash about the world and add to the din thereof.’”
He wrote that in 1955!!! We have only gotten busier, moved faster, found gears beyond high gear so we can go even faster, and find it ever harder to hear God’s still, small voice.
So yea, I went to church in the mountains. It took five days of being still before I began to meditate on how God is a God of color, and how He has surrounded us with the very colors we need to calm down, slow down, be still.
I heard and saw Him in other ways that I will share in subsequent posts. We have a lot of catching up to do in learning to “be” rather than to “do!”
Be still and know that I am God. – Ps 46:10