Be Still and Know
By Andrew Newkirk
“Be still, and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10
“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face…” I Kings 19:11-13
So for some reason that I have never fully understood in the middle of the yard of the home that I grew up in there was a bell. My parents, siblings, and I shared a home with my grandparents and the bell was my grandmother’s. Again, I do not know how she got it or why it was in the yard, but I learned at an early age that it was not a toy (i.e. was not supposed to be rung just because a child wanted to ring it). If Mamaw was having a good day and one had been a particularly good grandchild that week and none of the other grandkids were around to beg for a turn, then she might (“might” being the key word) let one ring the bell once, but only once.
One summer a cousin decided he was going to ring the bell without asking permission and learned the hard way to leave the bell alone; not because Mamaw gave him a few swats on his behind, but because the paper wasp colony that had built a nest in the bell stung him two or three times. When my parents sold that home and moved, they took the bell with them and Mamaw’s bell still has a place of honor in my mom’s front yard. There is nothing special about the bell in my mom’s yard to most folks, but to those who knew Mamaw, it serves as a source for smiles when we see it and think of her.
There have been other bells in my life at various camps I have attended or worked — the bells to start and end class in middle and high school are some that come to mind, but none has become a part of me the way Mamaw’s bell is. A new bell has entered my life now though, and it has quickly put the fondness I have for the bell of my childhood to the test. I am coming to really like this new bell. I am talking about Koinonia’s bell.
Those of you that have spent at least a day or two here at Koinonia likely remember the bell ringing at various times throughout the day — before chapel at 7:40am and then at 10 AM, 3 PM, and 8 PM. Those other bells from camp and school were important because they signaled the end or start of something and meant I needed to finish up and hurry along to that next thing. The Koinonia bell is important too, so important that some of us have taken to setting alarms on our phones for those times when we are inside or running machinery and do not hear it. At times it can be comical to see two or three of us silencing our alarms at the same time. The Koinonia bell is not important because it makes us rush to the next thing though. The Koinonia bell’s importance comes from causing us to slow down or even stop.
Things get crazy sometimes and when the bell rings, it is our signal to hit the pause button for a few moments and remember that God is in control, is our help in times of trouble and is a burden lifter. Other times things are great and the bell rings and reminds us that God is in control as the author of every good gift pouring out blessings beyond what we can ask or imagine. Always, the bell ringing reminds us to pause and recenter on God. It is a way of praying without ceasing. Just like Mamaw’s bell, the Koinonia bell is nothing special in and of itself, but when we hear it and choose to recenter on Christ, then special things start to happen inside of us.