“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
This familiar passage that calls us to stop, listen, and wait for God, is a missionary passage. The Psalmist continues, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
How thrilling to read that in the midst of trials and setbacks, the purpose of God is going forth. His Spirit will accomplish his appointed work of exalting the Lord of hosts among the nations. And yet, counterintuitively, we are commanded to be still. Being still cuts against the grain of most missionaries. We are the doers. We are the evangelical activists. Missionaries are the ones who scheme and strategize and do. Before all this “doing,” God calls us to stop:
Know I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
This pause in the midst of our action changes everything. He will be glorified, not because of my frenetic pace, but because he is God. We serve him not to achieve some objective, but because he is God. We seek to publish his beauty and glory because he is worthy of it. Before we can declare any word, go anywhere, or do anything, we must be still and know him. In the work of world evangelism, God is inviting us to join him in his mission, not the other way around.
Learning languages and cultures is hard work. The tasks of evangelism, discipleship and church planting are laborious. Waging warfare against the Prince of Darkness is dangerous and deadly. But for the missionary, the most profitable and the most difficult work is often the work spent alone with God in prayer. Know God, then serve him.