Have you noticed how easy it is to be caught up in the stress of always striving, seeking to accomplish something? It represents struggling or fighting for something. There is no question there are more than one or two principles, values, and causes that are worth fighting for or on behalf of, but in our Christian experience have we balanced out when we are to cease from that?
Everywhere I look there appears to be struggles in abundance as so much in our lives and world is being shaken. We can easily be thrown off balance and our natural instincts kick in and we either flee or fight. The key we must not lose sight of goes to the foundation of our Christian experience and what informs the decisions we make as we live in the world while seeking to be not of the world as His sons and daughters. I hear often that we need to stand in the midst of all that swirls around us.
One of the books I read long ago is that “little” gem by Watchman Nee entitled Sit, Walk, Stand. In less than sixty-five pages, he lays down the foundational principles Paul lays out for us in Ephesians as succinctly as anything I have ever read. If you have read it, you know what I mean. If you have never read it, put it on your book list.
It struck me that our difficulty of standing in the midst of challenge is perhaps because we have not first learned to sit, as Watchman Nee makes clear. Standing suggests we are in conflict or warfare and we cannot begin to consider warfare unless we have first learned to truly rest in Christ, in who He is, and what He has done for us and already accomplished on the cross and through resurrection. When we can sit and rest in that truth, we have greater clarity on the reality of the victory that was already accomplished and will be accomplished for the rest of all time.
That gives us the beginning of clarity on what it means to cease striving. If we get caught up in constant striving, I am not so sure the enemy is not gleeful when he senses that we are not certain that Christ’s sacrifice has counted for much of anything. Have we also lost sight of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us?
I am not suggesting there are not attacks of the enemy from a broad range of options available to him, but rather do we rightly discern what is an assault from him and what is a consequence of some poor choice or sin in our own lives? Our discernment is key.
Nee makes clear that if we have a solid understanding of our position with the Lord that we will be able to learn how to walk with Him before the world! In Ephesians Paul makes clear we are to put on the whole armor of God so we can stand against the wiles of the devil. Paul doesn’t suggest at that point that we are to march into battle, but rather to stand. Am I, are you, remembering why Paul exhorts believers to do that? It’s key to the foundation that leads to a cessation of striving.
Watchman Nee put it this way:
“The word ‘stand’ implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really His, and therefore ours. We need not struggle to gain a foothold on it.”
The weapons described in Ephesians 6 are by and large defensive except for the sword that can be used both defensively and offensively. That gives a metaphor for the truth that we have the ground because of Him. We are not, I am not, trying to get the ground if He dwells within us or me. Jesus took the war to the enemy at the cross and defeated him there. That is what allows us to know and be assured that we can stand and in fact, to know that He is counting on us to stand and not be shaken as the world around us starts to come apart.
Let Paul’s words encourage your heart today:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Is what He called us to do easy? Absolutely not! We need to depend on Him and that is as it should be.