I’d been reciting this over and over in my mind last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It made no difference as to the time of day, or where I was, or what I may have been doing. It was just there.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
“Why is this so important? What am I missing that I’m supposed to be getting? God, are you trying to tell me something? I’m being as still as I can be and do the things that I’m supposed to be doing. Lord, if You’ll just show me what I’m missing here…”
Such was my “conversation” with God the first few days of last week. Eight, nine, ten times a day… Be still and know that I am God. I’d hear it in my head, and answer back with a question or statement every time. “God, I know that you put this in my mind for a reason. The problem is that I don’t know what it is. Can you give me a little clarity here? I’m being still.” Of course, I was having my conversations with God on the run. You see, I really don’t know how to keep still, or at least not for any length of time.
“How many times do I have to plant this in your thoughts, Maniscalco? I want you to be still. NOW.”
I rolled out of bed last Thursday morning at 5:30 to get ready for a men’s Bible study/fellowship group that meets in our hair salon each week. The moment that my feet touched the floor I felt it: the Achilles Tendonitis in my right heel had decided to act up again, the third time that it had done so in the last six weeks. I got dressed and downed a couple of Tylenol on the way out the door, hoping, make that praying that this attack wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.
I was wrong.
By 6:30 I was limping. When I took my wife Jackie to lunch at noon I was hobbling. By the end of the day the pain was so intense that I could do little more than drag my foot in the direction that I was headed. An ice pack and several more Tylenol preceded a fitful night of sleep.
The next morning I was at our salon on crutches (again, for the third time in six weeks). Pride and being a “tough guy” had taken a back seat to the intense, incessant pain in my foot. By nine o’clock I had succumbed to the pain, and was headed back home for the remainder of the day.
Be still and know that I am God.
Once home, I climbed on our bed, propped my foot on a couple of pillows, and turned on the television. The channel was already set on one of the 24 hour news channels, and the news of the day was the tragic earthquake and following tsunami that had rocked Japan. I watched in disbelief as a wall of water rolled through northern Japan, engulfing farmlands, demolishing homes and buildings, and tossing cars and trucks around as if they were fifty-cent toys. Unbelievable. Unfathomable. Humbling.
Mercifully, the station broke away from the destruction in Japan. They wanted to give updates on the uprising in Libya, as well as the latest developments in Iraq. Sandwiched between it all were the most recent round of squabbles in Congress here in our own country.
“Be still and know that I am God” rang out in my mind yet again, in the midst of all the destruction and fighting that I was watching on T.V. This time I did something about it! I went to www.ask.com on my iPhone and typed in what I’d been “hearing” all week long, where I learned that God’s instruction to be still is found in Psalm 46. More curious than ever, I went to www.biblegateway.com and entered the NIV version of the Psalm. I sat in stunned silence at I read the passage, all the while recalling the images that I’d just witnessed on the television.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Fairly impactful message, wouldn’t you say?
Look, I’m no pessimist. I don’t think that the end of the world is near, or that the sky is falling, or that we should be saying goodbye to all of our loved ones. But then again, I could be wrong. I’m just saying that God stopped me dead in my tracks and laid this on my heart to share with you this week, at a time when all of this stuff “just happened” to be going on in the world.
What you do with it is up to you. I’m just saying that perhaps, from time to time, we should all stop whatever it is that we may be doing to be still, if only for a moment, and know that He is God.
Please pray for the people in Japan, and in Libya, and in Haiti, and wherever there is hurt. Pray for the people in your own back yard. Pray for God to tend to the needs of people wherever they may be, that they will feel His presence. That they will know that He is God.
See you next week.
I felt it the moment that I sent last week’s post, was blind but now I see into cyberspace for all to read. It was doubt, and it descended on me like a swarm of locusts at feeding time. That doubt has caused me to question my vision, my purpose, my church, my ministry, pretty much everything that I do, and my motives for doing it. I even contemplated pulling the plug on this site, with no explanation for my actions at all. How could I be filled with so much confidence in one moment and plagued by doubt in the next?
There are two possible explanations…
· My lack of faith
In November of 2009 I was in Tampa, Florida to shoot a video about our salon’s “success story” for an Internet-based company located there. Much to my chagrin, and for reasons that were never given to me, the video was never released. I mention this because the disappointment associated with the company’s decision not to use the video was the primary reason for the delay in sharing this true story with you. Or maybe it just wasn’t the right time…
The night before the shoot I was having dinner at the home of the company’s President, Dennis and his wife Carolyn, the latter of whom I’d known for several years. At some point in the conversation Carolyn made a comment about the changes that had taken place, not only in our salon, but in me, since we’d met in 2006.
Nodding my head in agreement, I quickly rifled through my memory banks as I recalled all the changes that had indeed taken place in that three year period. Wow. God had really blessed us, and He had allowed me to grow more than I could have ever imagined.
I confided to Carolyn that while I’d learned to be bold in sharing what’s on my mind and in my heart, especially as it pertained to God, there was still one thing that I couldn’t get past; one doubt that was still nestled in the recesses of my mind.
“What’s that?” Carolyn questioned.
“Well,” I slowly responded, searching for the right words, “I believe that with God all things are possible. I can do anything with Him. But, I won’t allow myself to dream the big dream. I don’t know if it’s a result of years of disappointment, or the prayer for humility that I say each morning, or wanting to live my life according to what God wants me to do, or just wrapping my mind around the fact that it’s okay to dream. Whatever the reason, or reasons, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I won’t even allow myself to actually define what my big dream is.”
In the studio
The next morning I was in the studio shooting the video, and at some point I was talking about limitations that other people (quite often people that love and care for us, like our parents), put on us as children. Oh, I believe that their intentions are good. I’m also of the belief that quite often they’re really trying to protect us from the disappointments and hurts that we may get in life. We know, of course, that we’re gonna suffer through both, just as they did, and their parents before them, and their parents before them.
The worst part is that in trying to protect us from hurt, they’re also planting seeds of doubt that we’re not good enough, or worthy enough, or capable enough. We never learn how to dream, and consequently we never really wrap our minds around the fact that with God all things are possible.
I headed back to Birmingham that afternoon, satisfied with the video that we’d done, hoping that it would touch the lives of many, and wondering if it might lead to any other opportunities to speak to people.
Two days later Lorri, one of our clients, came into our hair salon for an appointment. I just happened to be behind the front desk, and upon seeing me, Lorri said “Hey, I’ve got a message for you.”
“Great. What is it?” I replied.
“I don’t want to give it to you right now, because I don’t know what it means. Why don’t you wait until Tangie applies my color, and then come find me? I’ll share it with you then.”
Fifteen minutes later, and filled with curiosity as to what my message may be, I took a seat next to Lorri in the color processing area of the salon. Seeing the Okay-I’m-waiting-for-you-to-tell-me look on my face, Lorri picked up where she’d left off earlier…
“Okay, God has laid something on my heart for me to share with you. In fact, He’s done it more than once. Like I said, I don’t know what it means, but I’m supposed to give it to you. Maybe you’ll know what it means.”
For a brief moment I was torn between wanting to hear what my message was, and not wanting to hear it at all! Perhaps that was due to Lorri’s eagerness to share it with me, tempered by her lack of understanding as to what it meant. “Okay, so what is it?” I asked with a bit of trepidation.
Lorri continued. “God wants me to tell you that it’s time to dream the big dream. You were born with visions of what God wanted you to do. You had big dreams. Then, when you were a child, you were lead to abandon those dreams. God is ready to use you, Sam. In fact, He’s waiting for you. It’s time for you to dream the big dream. Does that make any sense to you?”
Stunned. Overwhelmed. Speechless. Blown away. Taken aback.
You can select any or all of the above to describe my reaction to Lorri’s message for me. Obviously, the message made perfect sense to me. I believe that it was a direct message from God, and I believe that He used my friend Lorri to deliver it. I mean, how could she have possibly known what I’d said in a recording studio several hundreds of miles away?
There was no doubt in my mind that the message was from God. But was I ready to accept it, and more importantly, believe it?
It has been more than a year, sixteen months in fact, since Lorri delivered my message; since God told me that it was time to dream the big dream. I have to be honest in telling you that I still haven’t done it. Oh, He’s opened doors for me to reach out to others through The Seed of Hope, our church, speaking engagements, and most recently in the prayer room that we put in our salon last May.
But I still haven’t allowed myself to let my imagination run wild as to what I may be able to accomplish during my time on this earth. And every once in a while, I can almost feel Him tapping me on my shoulder and saying, “That’s good, but what about that message I sent to you over a year ago? Are you gonna do anything about it? Don’t you believe that I’m capable of making your wildest dreams come true? You’re always telling people that My plans for them are bigger than their dreams. And you also tell them to dream the big dream. Well, what are you waiting for? I’m waiting for you.”
Even as I write this, I’m filled with doubt. Perhaps it’s Satan trying to hold me back. After all, my biggest dreams have to do with growing God’s Kingdom. Maybe it’s that prayer for humility that I offer to God each morning. Could be that it’s me being my own worst enemy. Then again, maybe it’s God asking me to step up my faith in Him, to finally believe, without a doubt, that with Him all things are indeed possible; not just for other people, but for me too.
In just a moment I’m gonna put my biggest dreams on a piece of paper and give ‘em to God. All of ‘em. I’m not holding anything back. Will they come true? I have no idea. One thing I do know is that it won’t be because I was afraid of letting Him know what they were.
I’m dreaming the big dream.