Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. ~Psalm 91:1
Much of my journey has been a learning to stop anxiously striving to do what God requires, and rather to rest in being who God wants me to be. I love this passage that a friend recently quoted on her blog:
“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” Colossians 1:11-12, The Message
That has been me—that gritting-your-teeth Christian, tired, tense, anxious, and miserable. But where do I find that “glory-strength” that “spills over into joy?” Sign me up, please!
The prophet Isaiah says, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. The will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).I heard that when an eagle is soaring on a wind current, it takes him no more energy than if he was sitting on his nest. Could it really be that easy?
I feel like my whole life I have been trying to battle God in order to convince Him to take care of me or give me what I think I need or even to help me to become what He wants me to be or to do what He wants me to do, when instead He is holding out to me the best gifts He can give me, saying, “Go ahead! Take it! Trust! Ask! I want to give this to you! I made it especially for you! I love you!” (Matthew 7:7-11).
Why do I cry out to Him, feeling incapable and insignificant, when He has given up His very own, only Son in order to restore a relationship with me? (John 3:16). When He sends His Holy Spirit to abide within me (John 14:26), how can I think that I am inadequate to accomplish the wonderful things He has planned for me? (Ephesians 2:10). Of course I am perfectly inadequate: that’s why He gives His Spirit to help me! Over and over in Scripture He reminds and reassures that He supplies what we are lacking. To Moses He says, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:11-12).
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. . . Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:7-10).
Clearly, I am meant to see that nothing I do is to be of my own strength, but only by His grace working through me. So the oxymoron is that I rest and He works through me. My pastor stated it this way: “We are to rest in the reality that Christ is sufficient.” That just hits the nail on the head. Ultimately, all of my striving and worrying is no less than saying that I think I must take control, because I don’t trust God to have it under control; I don’t have faith that He can and will supply all that I need.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells us that those who know Jesus find that strength and joy come in following and trusting, resting under the yoke of His commands.
“Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary.…Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.”