Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!
-- 1 Samuel 12.16 (NIV)

One reason why I like (most) abstract paintings is because you actually have to look at them. You can’t just look at it and say, “Oh, it’s a country lane” and walk away as if you have really seen the work. With a good piece of abstract art (and, honestly, some of what goes for abstract is just rubbish), you actually have to look at the thing. There is contemplation, study, analysis involved.

And those tasks involve stillness. One obvious downside to the mass marketing of even classic works of art (I have a Starry Night magnet on my fridge) is that people actually stop looking at them. The cheapening of art fits well with our drive-thru culture.
Some people think we ought not to spend too much time with the mysteries and paradoxes of the Bible. Some people think the study of theology is not worth our time. I think this is largely because it involves disciplines that involve contemplation and analysis. It taxes our brains too much.
And it requires stillness.

We have so-called promise books (I have a few myself, including one right here on my desk) that compile hundreds of individual Scripture verses categorized according to encouraging or “positive” subjects. This is a good thing.
But this sort of one-stop shopping version of Bible study can get out of hand, especially if it becomes symptomatic of our need for instant answers and on-the-go behavior. Promise books are not marketed to still people.

If God has exhaustive future foreknowledge, do I really have free will?
If God is sovereign, how also is man responsible for his own sin?

Those are just two of the more obvious examples of theological conundrums believers have wrestled with for centuries. And there are plenty of folks today who would suggest we should just stop.This space is not designed to argue or debate those or any other theological issue. But I will take this opportunity to affirm the validity – the necessity -- of wrestling with the hard stuff of Scripture. Not just because if the Bible teaches something, we ought to do our best to make as much sense of it as we are able, but also because this contemplation encourages being still.

So much of the Bible can be so confusing. Abstract, even, particularly the poetic and prophetic portions. So let us not pass them by as too hard, too confusing, too demanding like we would an abstract painting in a museum. Let us be still and study. We still may not “figure it out,” but we have at least given it the focused attention the work requires and the contemplative stillness our heart desires.

You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing . . . Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come?
-- Isaiah 42.20,23 (NIV)

(The painting above is of a Musketeer with Pipe. It is by Pablo Picasso.)