Resting In Him
Hi…a sister asked me to write down my thoughts from the other night when we were together. These are some rough thoughts that stood out to me. Maybe something somewhere in it will be helpful to y’all. Love, mary
What precious things God wants to reveal to us and teach us. What lovely Truths and how Good and freeing it is to Rest in His Peace. To truly rest. It’s more than we ever could ask for or imagine, to Rest before Him. No demands, no expectations, no need to be anyone, go anywhere, accomplish anything. No need to “offer” good things about myself that would somehow be acceptable. I don’t have to prove or accomplish anything. How completely liberating and wonderful it is to live There. To just rest from having to have “victories” or “growth,” or having to be “somebody spiritual.” I just don’t have to do a thing to earn approval or acceptance from God or any person or even from myself. What a tremendous relief. It has never been my job to improve my condition and it never will be. Though i strove for a long time trying to improve myself, thinking it was right to “be working at obeying God,” i was barking up a very wrong and disappointing tree. I finally Saw, because of His sweet kindness and patient mercy, that He was not interested in improving me. That was NEVER EVER His Goal for my life—for me to “become a better person.” His Goal for me has always and ever will be, that i’d simply bury myself deeply—oh so deeply—in the Life and very person of His Son, Jesus.
There, IN JESUS, is where True Life, Peace, Contentment and sustenance reside. And it’s a place to Live Always… not just visiting there on a “good day” based on feelings or some other external thing. I don’t have to waste any more time trying to improve myself. I don’t have to worry that i’m not “doing better” or strive to “get it right.” It was never God’s intent when Jesus spent Himself here on the earth, that Jesus would go through every step, all the way to His Death—to have us try to “add” something to His perfectly finished and all-encompassing Work. Glory to God that we do not have to strive ever again to be someone!! He has done it all. NOW the key is to live IN Him, and relinquish all control, rights, dreams and opinions, and Let Him live in me and through me to the pleasure of the Father. I don’t have to live ever again with my own preconceived notions of “what that should look like” and then try to “do it” (“live” the picture i have in my mind). My only job is to Live in Him, trusting Him for all things, difficult or otherwise, and Let Him live His life through me. How totally Liberating and Beautiful His Plan.
So i can let go of all striving and straining, and weighty expectations of performance that i have ever placed on myself. I’ve taken upon myself in times past to “learn things,” but it was dependent somehow on my own strength to accomplish them. Now, i’m beginning to realize that there is a way of placing my full weight on the Father and trusting Him for the outcome. There is a way of standing fully on Jesus as my only Hope for absolutely every struggle or hurdle or unknown answer that would cross my path.
In case anyone is wondering, I suppose some of this could sound like we don’t have a responsibility to do anything. Not at all!! There is still much Work to do. After all, “the work of God is this, to BELIEVE on the One He has sent.” It’s just that the nature of the effort is much, much different. It is no longer a drawing from my own resources. Now, in HIM, the energy to do the work is “from Him, through Him and to Him” only. Because He is Alive within, we have His life as our Continual Resource; His actual energy, wisdom and strength are ours. It’s no longer me standing next to Jesus doing the best i can. NO!! It’s IN HIM, we live and move and have our being. Any circumstance that comes along, any long standing sin i have battled, any difficult task in front of me, any unknowns, any unanswered questions, any pressure of life without or within…ALL of them, every one, can be resolved in Him—by standing on Him and simply believing that He will come through. If the bottom drops out, so be it. He is able and will take care of whatever i trust Him with.
We all have felt that treadmill of performance, failure, success…failure…success…up one day, down the next. We “succeed” for a time then fall flat on our face in failure. It’s a terrible, enslaving, endless cycle of success followed by pride or self-sufficient feelings and independence…to failure with all its despair and temptation to bail out and quit. And unbelief comes in. Then we finally fall on our face and repent, and we’re rescued again and stand up and believe. “Success” followed by pride…failure…despair. It’s all about me—what agony! And not the destiny of those with the Wind of Heaven in their lungs.
Our destiny is to find the Resting Place in Jesus where we cease from our work once and for all. It’s a transaction that occurs in the spirit of a person, in the deep recesses of their soul, as we lay it all at Jesus’ feet. We find that Place as we repent of the striving, the fear of letting go, the ambitions, and the control of one’s life. It’s in laying everything we possibly know of at His feet. It includes the deeply embedded desires in each of us to be respected, or competent, or “able” or “successful.” Somehow we must drop the desire to be “good”—even a “good servant.” Every desire and ambition must be put at His feet. Even the longing to be self-sufficient: that desire to not want to have a constant dependence on and need for God. As terrible as that sounds, it IS a resentment or regret we can have that must be crucified and laid on the altar before God. It’s the desire we have to hold some kind of control or ability or offer some goodness of ourselves. Wow. Those hidden desires in our hearts aren’t so easily detected. It costs, to root them out and lay them down. But it is SO Incredibly and Amazingly worth it. And only in so doing will we find Him and know what it means to rely wholly on Him for every breath and every ounce and the strength to obey Him… Only He can make us able to live the “Christian life” that we so desire.
The Big Bad Lie—And the Finished Work of Jesus!!
There is also this terrible lie that we can drag around like a ball and chain. When we have an area or two of weakness and perpetual failure in our lives, the lie can come to us like this: “When i finally get over this thing, THEN i can really be free to Live a full and powerful Life with Jesus.” It’s a “feeling” and a “state of mind” which robs us of the intimate Life with Jesus that we can have RIGHT NOW. There is no waiting any longer. That day of victory is not “somewhere out there” in the hazy future when i “finally overcome this sin in my life.”
That monster of a sin and the perpetual failure and slavery you may feel in a certain area or two is the very doorway IN to Reality with Jesus. It is not something YOU battle with and later on you’ll be able to be with Jesus for real. “First let me take care of this, and when i finally get over it, THEN i’ll really be able to be a worshipper and the kind of person i’ve always wanted to be.” That’s a lie as proven by the fact that we remain impotent and stagnant, always “just one step away” from God and a Life of Fruitful, Active Life-changing obedience. Am i right? Have you felt that? I know i have. But it’s wrong. It’s believing a lie. Jesus completed IT ALL on the Cross. If we are “waiting until someday” then we are saying that Jesus’ Work is not finished. He said on the cross in His deepest agony…“IT IS FINISHED!”
When we’ve finally exhausted all our resources, and we’re at the end of our rope…after we’ve “tried everything” to be a different person, it gets to a point where we sob for freedom. We’re cut deeply about the terrible bondage and grip this sin has on us. It’s gone way beyond polite little prayers and saying the “right words” in a conversation with God and shallow regrets and “Oh well, i blew it again. I guess i’ll always be this way.” We reach the point where we can’t get away from it. It’s always “in our face.” The thoughts are always there, holding us captive to our sin. There’s failure no matter what we try to do and no matter how determined or desirous we might be or what good intentions we have.
We’re getting closer if we’re feeling more and more: “Oh, wretched man that i am!!! UGGHHHH!!!!!! Who will save me from this body of sin and slavery and death!?” It’s painful, but we begin to take God at His Word on a much more specific level. Wait a minute…am i a believer or not? Didn’t God say, “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Didn’t God say that i no longer have to offer the parts of my body to sin as instruments of wickedness? Romans 6. Did He say that or didn’t He? If I am unbelieving in my heart about what He has said, then the Holy Spirit will all the more make sure i feel the misery of my unbelief. So i can either live in total misery with my captivity, thrown around like a rag doll in the dog’s mouth, or I can take Him at His Word and FIND HIM FOR REAL IN A PROFOUND AND LIFE CHANGING WAY LIKE NEVER BEFORE!! I decide to dare to TRUST God and what He has promised. I will not hide behind my fears any longer. I’ve got to step out and believe Him. The pain drives us there, if we let it. The Law will drive me to Christ if I let it. “Don’t do this thing anymore.” The Law drives me to Jesus, because i can’t keep it. I can’t do it. Somewhere inside of us we’ve got to decide to hold on tightly to what God says: that Jesus has done it and will do it, IN US AND THROUGH US (Romans 8).
We must come back to Him again and again on this gut-wrenching heart level. We must not be afraid to be brutally honest with God and others about the hideousness of our disgusting motivations, lusts and actions of our flesh. They are in us, there’s no denying it. We’re getting so desperate, we just have to look it square in the face and call it exactly what it is. No more dodging in the shadows, justifying our sinful desires and ignoring the ugliness that motivates us. No more comparing ourselves to others and thinking that surely i’m so much worse off. “This depth of sin is so hideous. I should keep hiding my awfulness because it would be embarrassing to bring it out to others. It would make Jesus look bad for me to confess this thing in me.” NO!! We are not afraid, anymore, of being brutally honest with ourselves and God and others. Our desperation to be set free drives us to Jesus like never before. Even if i’m a billion times worse than everybody else, i’ve got to bring it out because i’m past the point of no return and this has brought me to the brink of annihilation if something serious doesn’t change in me. I’ll not be afraid anymore, to TRUST HIM. I’ll not be afraid of failure anymore. I’ll not let my pride stand in the way any longer. Maybe i’ll fail, but that’s not the point. The point is: “Test me and see if I don’t throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it!”
As we believe Him, the person we’ve always wanted to be emerges as a result of facing failure with faith. The goal is not to conjure up this strong faith in God in the face of every temptation. Ultimately we must believe Him when faced with temptations, yes. We CAN be overcomers in this area. We must HATE what we do. But sometimes we’re such a slave in a certain area that we can’t even “feel” how it could be different. We have very dim vision for lasting change in those areas of our lives. We have such a miserable track record that we’ve nearly given up. It is at this point that we must realize that the Faith we so desire and the Trust that is oh so necessary…is birthed in the womb of intense failure and despair and crying out from the heart: “Who will save me from this body of death?” Only there, do we finally begin to See our total inability and fruitless efforts, impotent willpower and striving. This thing is too big of a monster for me to handle. WELL……those huge monsters are the crucible for change. It’s at the point of perpetual failure where we are madmen in the face of temptation and give ourselves over to sin in a heartbeat. We “don’t care” and lash out and throw ourselves with abandon into the sin. :( Do you know what i’m talking about? In that tortured state is where we see the hideous potential for rebellion that lies within us. But if we have Faith to believe Him, it is the Place and the Way that God wants to show us on the deepest level, His utter and Total ability to save us from our sin.
We’re getting closer if we can mourn and lament and feel the utter, utter hopelessness in our own soul. We feel that hopelessness, but turn our face up and say, “OH GOD!!!! I’m pathetic. I know it! It’s hideous. I don’t hide it. I give you no excuses. It’s no one else’s fault but my own. I will not blame my circumstances or my past or others or my wiring. I will not blame You. This is who i’ve allowed myself to be currently, but it’s not WHO YOU ARE INSIDE OF ME. I believe that somehow you can change me and make me a different person when i’m faced with this temptation. PLEASE oh PLEASE have mercy on me. “Not for my sake, but because You said so—to prove yourself reliable and trustworthy to the seen and unseen world. PLEASE OPEN MY EYES!!”
What a relief that i never had to “do” anything in the first place. He’s simply asked me to rest at His feet, believing that He can provide what i need. He can be what i need. He wants to BE it, in me and through me. Hallelujah! My part is to believe Him, trust Him completely and stand on Him.
So somehow, “success” as the goal begins to fade away as the goal and priority. The goal is no longer to “do well” in something or “to avoid the bad things.” Truth be told, i simply can’t do it: doing all the good, or avoiding all the bad. It can’t be done in any human being. The rare few who discover in the inner man that Jesus has already done it all and still wants to live it out through the human frame… those are the ones who discover Peace and lasting victory over sin.
It’ll never be wrapped up in a formula. It’ll be the Life that is “hidden with Christ in God.” A LIFE…a relationship that goes on day by day and is made up of a succession of different things. Responses and talking and pleading and listening and choosing and acting and loving and learning and growing. All of it is a dynamic that fluctuates, bends and turns like the river as it runs its path from highest peak to largest ocean. How do you define the journey of a drop of water through the cycle of life? How do you describe that? My goal no longer has to be “getting it right” and “i have to conquer this sin.” As odd as that sounds, my goal becomes staying right in this moment, trusting Him for NOW. I can’t “make plans” and have a safeguard for what I will choose in an hour, but I can trust Him NOW for what the next hour will bring. HE is my guarantee and not “my good intentions” to do something in the future. I trust that He’ll be Available and Alive and Able to help me when life shows up an hour from now or tomorrow or next week.
Too many circumstances, unknowns and pitfalls can come along that it’s impossible to come up with a plan of salvation for myself. HE is my plan. Now. And He’ll be my plan then too. : ) I don’t have to have guarantees that “From now on i’ll be different in this area.” I don’t have to “know” that it will be different forever. I just may fail again, but I am not afraid anymore. If I fail I will repent and turn back to Him. My goal is no longer “to not fail” because that goal is rooted in pride and relies on my own determination and willpower. I’m abandoning all that (my own efforts and pride) and leaving them by the wayside as dung. They’ve never been my friends. I gladly abandon them. NOW, it’s Jesus and He alone who will save me. I will place my full weight on Him. He’ll come through for me. Even if I fail, i will not be afraid. I’ll turn to Him then, too. Avoiding failure is no longer the goal. The goal is TRUSTING HIM. Do you see it? It relieves the pressure and interaction with my own brain about “My terrible sin problem.” When i interact with my brain, it’s lifeless. When i interact with Jesus, there is always LIFE and Hope and a Future.
“The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, ‘Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
“But the Lord still waits for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for Him to help them. O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will respond instantly to the sound of your cries. Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and affliction for drink, He will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes, and you will hear a voice say, ‘This is the way; turn around and walk here.’ Then you will destroy all your silver idols and gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags. ‘Ugh!’ you will say to them. ‘BE GONE!’” (Isaiah 30:15, 18-22)