To be in a position to receive from God, we must first be at rest. This is an internal rest on the inside where there is a cessation of all internal and external striving and anxiety.
God is sovereign. He has All Power. We are mere, small humans. Our life is like a vapor (James 4:14). Our life is like a flower of the field. We can be here today and gone today . When we leave this earth realm, life will continue in some ways as if we never existed. (Psalm 103: 15-16). Our physical frame, our substance, the body in which our spirit dwells is like dust (Psalm 103:14).
Yet we strive and struggle as if everything we are dealing with right now is permanent and forever. We fret and fume as if somehow we can make something happen in our natural efforts that can only be done by the supernatural hand of God. We desire for the promises of God to fully manifest in our lives on our time frame and from our limited perspective. We confess, go to church, pray, read the bible and fellowship. We do all of these good and right things yet we find ourselves frustrated, restless and overwhelmed while the promises of God remain un-manifested in our lives.
There are many, many reasons for this – way too many to go into here as to why this could be the case for some of us, but I believe one of the primary and key reasons why we fail to fully receive and walk in the promises of God is because we strive for it too much in our limited human energy. Our pride causes us to strive to do God’s work and “make it happen” in our own strength. The problem is that our strength is very limited and we are not God, therefore we reach a point where we become too anxious and uptight to even receive what we are believing for, much less have the capacity to keep it when we receive it.
Strive: To make great efforts to achieve something; to exert much effort or energy; endeavor; to struggle or fight forcefully; to contend; to make a great and tenacious effort; to exert oneself vigorously; to try hard; to labor and to work.
Restlessness: Marked by a lack of quiet, repose, or rest; not able to rest, relax or be still; feeling of agitation expressed in continual motion; the feeling of being agitated and not calm; turmoil; instability; bustle; inconstancy; hurry-scurry; anxiety; disturbance; disquiet; edginess; uneasiness.
For example, imagine a beautifully dressed woman sitting down in a very nice restaurant. She would like to have a cold glass of water. Normally, the customer will sit and patiently wait until the waiter or waitress stops by the table, sets down a glass, and pours water into the glass from a pitcher. The customer does not have to do anything but sit there and wait for the glass to get full and then drink.
However, this woman is very, very thirsty and she is impatient. She really wants someone to fill her glass RIGHT NOW with some ice, cold water. Instead of sitting at her table and waiting, she decides that it is absolutely imperative that she gets her own water. She is tired of waiting. She is getting restless and agitated at having to sit still for so long. She finds a glass, gets up and walks all over the restaurant in circles around the tables, to the restroom, outside in the parking lot, all over the place to get her glass of ice water. She fails to notice the nice waitress calmly standing there with a pitcher of water waiting for her back at the table ready to fill her glass to the top if only she would stop scurrying about like a chicken all of over the restaurant, huffing and puffing, getting all tired and sweaty.
All she had to do was sit down and wait. But no, she wanted to figure out how to get her own water, her way without any help from anyone. She wants everyone to see that she can get her own water all by herself. In the meantime, the once poised and well-mannered lady is now all crazy, tired, overwhelmed and frustrated. Her hair is messed up and her clothes are wrinkled. Her glass is now dirty and is cracked.
This is how we look to God when we try to help, heal, fix, deliver, figure out something, get revelation or wisdom, or try make something happen that only God can do. Yes, we have our own part to do. Yes, we are supposed to work but ONLY from a place and position of rest and peace. A peaceful mind is a powerful mind. God has not given to us a spirit of fear (anxiety, striving, and turmoil) but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). When there is work to be done, it is to be done decently and in order under God’s timing with his wisdom and peace. If the work we are doing to make something happen is causing inner striving, turmoil, restlessness and lack of peace than we can be sure that we are doing the work in our own fleshly energy. Working in the energy of God is working in the energy of Grace. His grace is sufficient and his grace does not bring the striving restlessness but peace and poise even under trying circumstances.
In the example above, how can the lady get water in her glass when the glass is always moving? How can we expect to receive anything from God when we are busying moving about and refuse to get still enough to receive it in the first place? God is very big and powerful. We are the little ones. We must get still and seek Him for us to fill us with what we need. Sometimes He will wait until we have depleted all of our human energy before He can begin to move on our behalf. By this point, we are so exhausted that we cannot move and are finally still enough to receive what He was trying to get to us all along.
Rest: The cessation of work, exertion or activity; peace, ease, refreshment; mental or emotional tranquility; relief or freedom from disquiet or disturbance.
Because our God is peaceful and orderly it would behoove us to ask Him to help us become like Him. It will help us receive from Him much easier. We cannot approach an orderly, peaceful, All powerful, Almighty God in a striving, huffing, puffing, and anxious way. In 1 Peter 5:5 in the Amplified Bible reads:
“…Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility …For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful) – [and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble…”
With all of the perplexities, issues and struggles we face in our lives the last thing we need is to have the Sovereign Lord God of the entire Universe opposing and frustrating us because we are too proud to stop trying to do it ourselves. However, if we do not humble ourselves and get still before Him, this is exactly what happens. Then we wonder why everything is so hard, so frustrating and so aggravating when we believe we are doing everything right.
It is because we carry our own cares instead of casting our cares as we are told to do in 1 Peter 5:7. We then exalt ourselves in pride to do it ourselves in our way. God sits and watches the proud from person at a distance according to Psalm 138:6. We do not need God watching us from afar as we stumble and bumble along without His Grace. We need Him actively involved and working in our lives!
For us to truly rest and let God work and be led in our work by and through His Strength, we must align ourselves with what He plainly tells us in scripture about the nature of HIS work:
- He chose us. We didn’t choose Him. (John 15:16) He made the choice to die on the cross for our sins and love us. We didn’t have sense enough to choose Him first.
- It is God who works in us, both to will and to do HIS good pleasure (Phil 2:13). He works in us (not us) and it is for His pleasure (not ours). The Amplified version states: “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight…”
- Jesus is the Author of our Faith and He will finish what He started. He started this work in his and He will finish it. (Hebrews 12:2 )
- We are his workmanship. We are His handiwork. We were created to do preordained good works, but in His strength only. (Ephesians 2:10)
- We are to be confident that he started this workmanship in us and that He will keep on working in us until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)
We are to let God do it. It’s not about us. This whole process is His business and His work. Not ours.
We are to wait with confident expectation and most of all in a spirit of rest so that we can receive the peace, the instruction, the wisdom, the revelation, and understanding that we need (and the breakthroughs and blessings) so that the work that we are to do we do it in His grace, His Timing, His Way and in His Strength.
- Stop Striving, Start Listening (petergowesky.com)
- The Cure for Anxiety (inlovewematter.wordpress.com)