Having been in church since pre-birth, my vocabulary is laced with “Church-ese.” These are words, phrases, acronyms, and abbreviations that only “insiders” know. If someone prayed for a “hedge of protection” around their wayward teenager, we all knew what that meant. Or if they said that “the cloud has moved,” no one flinched. When the pastor said to “bow your head and close your eyes,” we did not have to ask why.
There were bigger words that most of us could not spell, but we totally affirmed. If the pastor spoke of the Resurrection, or the Incarnation, or the Crucifixion, or divine unction, or solemn repentance, we all said amen. And we all perked up our ears at the time of prayer requests and testimonies, because we might learn some new gossip.
We knew that “closing comments” rarely were, and that “Koinonia” was not a dish at the pot-luck. And when a congregant started a conversation with, “I’m telling you this in Christian love,” you knew that it will probably hurt you deeply. And who would ever doubt a person who was being “intentional,” "transparent,” or “authentic"?
But one of the most helpful “Church-ese” phrases I have learned, was spoken by my dear mother as I sat next to her in church. Being 6 years old in a lengthy worship service designed for adults, was, uh, boring. God made me to wiggle, squirm, and flex every muscle in my body. I heard voices in my head that called me to stand up, jump, and scratch. Doing something with arms waving and feet running was life itself.
As my little boy motor started to zoom, Mom would often whisper in my ear, “sit still.” Really? Are you kidding? We’ve been sitting here for 74 minutes. That’s a lifetime. When will this meeting end? I’ve got things to do!"
Mom’s “Church-ese” phrase came to mind recently as I read again the story of Naomi and Ruth in Ruth 3. The relationship between Ruth and Boaz was moving at a slow pace. Ruth was an active person who wanted to help make things happen. When it appeared that Ruth was becoming frustrated, her mother-in-law Naomi whispered those powerful words, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out.” (Ruth 3:18)
“Sit still” is an influential phrase for anyone who is anxiously striving to get to the next stage of life. We want the freeway, but God often takes the sight-seeing route. In our anxious moments, please remember Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Or perhaps Exodus 14:14, “God will fight for you, only be still.”
You may not know all the church “insider terms,” but you must let God be God. Right now, in your anxious moments, “Be still before the Lord.” (Psalm 37:7) It’s good for the soul and provides opportunity for the Lord to speak to you. Why not give it a try?