I love getting in bed after a long day with a sense of accomplishment. Laundry is folded, dishes are clean, workout is completed, house is in order, husband and children are happy, Bible is read, my prayer time moved the mountains, and I even had time to visit a friend.
I felt accomplished, like I had made a difference in the world that day. I felt like God was well pleased and that He would reward me for all my hard work.
I have gotten really good at striving in my own strength to get everything done. Many days I will send myself into overdrive to accomplish all that I feel called to do.
To be honest, most days I feel quit the opposite. I go to bed with the sense I have short-changed someone. Were all my children loved today? Was I short with my husband this afternoon? Oh no, I forgot to call that friend today that needed comfort. A bill went unpaid and the bed went un-made again. How can I teach the children to make their beds if I don’t make mine?!
In the still of the night I hear the accuser whisper, “You don’t measure up. You will never succeed in your family, purpose, or calling if you don’t get it together. Who are you doing this all for?”
But don’t we all, in some sense, define ourselves by what we do. The first question that is often asked when you meet someone is, “What do you do for a living?” Or often we ask, “What did you do today?”
According to our culture, the hardest working person wins. No one is surprised when a person works hard and receives a promotion or raise. Our perfect children are dependent on our perfect parenting. Our promotions and raises depend on our achievements. Even in our Christian cultures the message we send is that we need to do more and try harder to have what we want. Our success in the kingdom depends on us. If we work hard enough and give abundantly, blessings will follow. The lie that we are believing is that “our” efforts are ultimately responsible for our rewards.
The problem with this mentality is that it keeps us under the law rather than grace. It keeps us bound to the culture rather than to the Father’s heart and the Spirit’s voice. We have a misplaced trust that is cheating us. We are relying on our own efforts and understanding.
Lately, I have heard the spirit saying, “rest.”
“Rest in me. Rest in all I have done. Rest in all I am about to do. Rest knowing you hear my voice.”
I am confident that the Sabbath Rest that Paul talks about in Hebrews is not just meant for Sunday but to be a lifestyle. Rest is to be our rhythm of life.
“So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, while the promise to enter His rest remains, let us fear that none of your should miss it.” Hebrews 3:19-4:1
Three Ways to Rest and Stop Striving:
1. Know and Depend on All that Jesus has Accomplished
Unbelief kept the Israelites from entering God’s rest. Unbelief will rob us of rest. It is our faith in who Jesus is, and what He has done that allows us to enter His rest.
It is not being dependent upon our own performance. Because of Jesus we are presented “holy, faultless and blameless before Him.” Colossians 1:22
Our identity comes from Christ. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
2. Trust in the Leading of the Spirit and Give up Trusting in Your Own Strength.
One morning I felt the gentle urging of the Spirit to be still in prayer and say nothing. For about 30 minutes I sat before the Lord in silence. I immersed myself in all that Jesus had done and listened intently to the Father. A calm sense of peace overtook me.
Three mornings in a row i did this. Until on the third morning I began to feel guilty, like I should be praying for lost souls or my children…anything. My misplaced trust in the flesh cheated me of rest that morning and left me feeling frustrated.
The Spirit was saying, “Be still and know I am God.”
The Holy Spirit is alive in us, we have infinite power and wisdom, and yet we trust our flesh more than the spirit.
“Striving with His strength that works powerfully in me” Colossians 1:29
“Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
3. Be Utterly Dependent on the Father’s Love and Intimacy to Meet all Your Desires and Needs.
A few years ago I was struck by the verse Psalm 32:8-9, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go, with my eye on you, I will give counsel. Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and the all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Matthew 6:33
The Lord longs to guide us and instruct us through an intimacy, a relationship. He does not desire to guide us by the law. Fear and guilt is not how our Heavenly Father intends to guide us.
With my head against the Father’s chest listening to His soft heartbeat is the way I often picture myself being guided through the day.
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The Joy of the Lord is My Strength.