Punctuation. It accompanies our written form of language. It helps us to better understand things when we read them. Let’s take this phrase as an example. Without punctuation it is a dangerous sentence: Let’s eat grandpa. Now with punctuation, it is less dangerous and more satisfying: Let’s eat, grandpa. Punctuation matters.
There are all kinds of punctuation, in fact, more than I know and truly understand. To be honest, it is quite ironic that I am writing about punctuation because a previous editor had a field day with my writing during my Doctor of Ministry project. We continue nonetheless and I will ask for grace in the midst of my punctuation mess.
In the sentence example above about grandpa, the important piece of punctuation was a comma. Commas and periods are the most frequently used punctuation marks. Commas customarily indicate a brief pause; they’re not as final as periods.
Commas indicate a brief pause, like taking a breath as I learned in my English classes from high school. Now, what does all this have to do with this article and Lent? Well, everything.
JOEL OSTEEN EXPLAINS THE POWER OF PRAYER AFTER TRAGEDY
I was recently reading Psalm 46 and came across verse 10. The scripture reads, “Be still, and know that I am God…” I have read this verse hundreds of times and heard it even more, but this is the first time I have ever noticed the comma. Now I realize that perhaps David may not have put the comma in the verse, but the translators did, and for me it made a huge difference.
So often I read the verse without the comma, except today. Today I noticed the comma. Today I noticed the pause, the breath, the rest in the verse, so appropriately placed after two words: Be Still. I wondered why I had never noticed it before. Was it because maybe I have never taken the time to actually be still while reading the verse? Was it because I have unconsciously not wanted to see the comma causing me to pause as I read? I have no clue, but what I do know is I noticed it today and it has changed my perspective.
I have always understood what the gist of the verse was so that has not necessarily changed, David encourages us to as you might assume, be still, and know that God is who he says he is. However for me, seeing the comma and intentionally pausing for a moment after, “be still,” has caused me to actually be still. I paused. I rested. I didn’t rush to the next word. I let sink in what was being said. I was still and let God speak.
ADVICE ON FINDING FAITH IN AN INCREASINGLY UNCERTAIN WORLD
So often I am anything but still. I tend to just rush to the next thing and when I do this I take the chance of missing out on what God was wanting me to hear in that still moment.
Today I learned to appreciate the comma as a respite, not a final ending. I learned to appreciate the pause, the rest, the still moment in my chaos filled life. Today I heard God say – Be still, and know that I am God. Be still, and know that I got you. Be still, and know that everything is going to be alright. Be still, and know that whatever life throws at you, it is just a small pause along the way, it is not the final stop. Be still, and know I am here.
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As we journey through the season of Lent, a season designed to help us pause and reset, may we learn to appreciate the commas in life as a pause and not the final period. May we learn to pause in those still moments and let God speak. May we come to know the great I Am and experience his overwhelming presence with us at all times.