Today my wife and I took time to have a retreat with God. After praying individually and coming together we both had heard God say that we had not received more fullness of His presence with us because we did not really see our need as the serious thing He saw it as.
Let me explain:
For the past few months we had been working hard both at work and in ministry. We used spare time we had to meet others to clean our home and to get house projects done. At the same time though there were unresolved difficulties that kept popping up. Our dog got bone cancer and lost one leg and continues to struggle with the cancer. Someone close to us has come down with some serious psychological issues that he is working through. My job is the busiest, and most visible, one I’ve ever had and it is a regular battle to try not to fall behind, and I’m not always succeeding in that battle… The coronavirus and the Christian persecution in China is staring to hit closer to home in ways I don’t want to write too specifically on… and to top it all off a place we love and have been doing ministry with seem like they may be less open to our help.
Going through all this our answer has tended to be to push harder to try to do better to plan and plan. Until I have come to a place of emotional exhaustion. Then, suddenly when we took time to come before God, we realized that in fact the one thing we were not doing, placing ourselves before God, was the exact thing we needed. We had in our constant activity fallen away from the stillness of moving toward God’s heart and so we were doing a lot of things… in a very unfruitful way.
Why We Don’t go to God First
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling, and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
therefore you shall flee away;
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
In our study through Isaiah I noticed this verse recently. Israel has come into hard times and from the context it seems like this hardship has even come from God to draw them back to Him. Yet, Israel tries to solve the crisis by running to Egypt, by making an alliance they can control. Surely, they can eventually pay Egypt back for their help and still be ok. God says, however, that they should have turned to Him, that was the whole point after all of their trouble. Yet Israel covers their mistakes with more mistakes and seeks out refuge instead of seeking deep in their own selves to find why the situation has come about in the first place.
This is precisely what we often do. We want to be ok; we want to be the one who has the solution. We don’t want to dip into the water unless we know how it will turn out. We are scared of falling into God’s hands rather than our own idea of what we should do. Yet, in the topsy turvey world of following God sometimes instead of activity, even in a time when activity seems most called for, we are instead called to be quiet and seek God’s direction.
The Answer Might be Hard
Now the ironic thing is that Anne and I didn’t hear from God that He was going to relieve us from the current crisis. Instead God told us that our heart was wrong before Him and we need to seek Him out more. In fact we have fallen into a pattern of settling when the picture we see of Christians Biblically is much deeper than the walk with Christ we currently have. They shared their faith freely and openly. They performed signs and wonders. They saw the need of the world from God’s eyes and saw the power that was with them was in fact greater the one who was in the world. God uses adversity to call us back to Him and when we are with Him the topsy turvey thing is that He intends to use us for glorious and great things, He calls us further… yet in this further He also calls us to seek Him in quietness and in trust. To find our peace in Him then to really share that peace with others.
Final point, the Christian life is about more than just finding Jesus and getting saved. It is about entering into the same Kingdom mission He was on. It means receiving the call of being a laborer, it means thinking through what that means AND it means seeking Him in quietness in trust. Its a forming life and a constantly moving toward greater growth life. It is THE great adventure, the thrill of our lifetime to be called to the same topsy turvey thing Jesus did, His disciples did and now we must do. To proclaim and live in the truth and to move step by step toward Him.