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Reflections Worth Taking Your Time

Be Still and Know
A 40-day Journey to a Calmer Soul and a Deeper Relationship with God

By T. Lerisa Simon
Independently published, 144 pages, $9.99

Be Still and Know is a rare thing: a devotional written by a woman from the Global South but published in the Global North. It includes section introductions by four clergymen — a bishop and a canon from the Anglican Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba and two Moravian clerics from the West Indies.

Mrs. Simon and I are both clergy spouses, and I found many of her daily entries honest and compelling. She reminds us of the wisdom found in Matthew 5:22-24 (“If your brother or sister has something against you … first be reconciled … and then come and offer your gift”), and confesses that sometimes she feels God’s call to reconciliation can be “a huge sacrifice,” especially when she is not the wrongdoer.

In another entry she says that when her son was small, she created a private, invisible record in her mind and named it the “hypocrite file.”  Mrs. Simon purposedly noted every time she found herself correcting her son when she struggled with the same issue. Now that her son is older, he readily points out any of his mother’s double standards. Most parents know that our children are often those who most powerfully show us our flaws.

Simon provides daily readings as well as a short reflection, a prayer starter, a short phrase or two that she labels as “Today’s Thought,” and a couple of additional Bible verses to allow the reader to go deeper. I especially liked the prayer starters. Simon has a knack for clearly stating the human needs highlighted by each devotional entry. In an entry titled “Choose Life!” she thanks God for the Holy Spirit, who “leads and guides me into all truth.” We liturgical sorts can easily forget that the Spirit brings more transformation than our own efforts do.

Simon says in her introduction to this 40-day devotional that “life is demanding,” so she’s made all of the “devotions concise and to the point.” She adds that this makes the book usable during all seasons of the year. I see her point, but on the back cover, we’re told that in five minutes or less per day, “you can connect with your Father and discover who He is, feed on His Word and keep growing spiritually, learn to see yourself as God sees you, and take away some nugget for reflection and refreshment.”

That’s an astounding claim even for coming to know another human being, let alone the God of the universe.

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