A few days ago I wrote a post entitled Cease Striving…Stand as I reflected on how we respond when our lives feel as if they are being upended. I took a brief look back at Watchman Nee’s classic work, Sit, Walk, Stand, focusing on the book of Ephesians. Since then I have heard more than one or two messages or reminders of how key it is for us to rest when all around us are faltering. The sources have been broad and varied and it occurred to me that I think the Lord is speaking to His body on this issue. I don’t think He is asking us to be passive when He says we are to rest, but rather to actively trust Him.
I can recall more than a few seasons where my world was being upended and I was being pulled in every direction. I was exhausted and easily caught up in all the things I absolutely had to do. One of those was the season over a number of months where both of my parents died. In February of that year, my father suddenly became ill after always being healthy and five and a half weeks later, he went home to be with the Lord. During that same time my mother (who had congestive heart failure) was hospitalized several times and then died in June three months to the day of my father. Additionally, my only living sibling who was developmentally handicapped, had other mental problems, and lived with my parents became my responsibility.
Those months tested my limits in every area of my life. Their deaths were hard enough, but dealing with their estates simultaneously while seeking guardianship of my brother, and petitioning to find placement for him in a group home, left me fully depleted.
I had no choice except to fall into the Lord’s arms knowing all that I faced was too much for me to handle. Did it feel like the enemy was about to do me in? Absolutely, yes!
It is easy during such times as believers to know what we should do and can do, but fall prey to old demanding voices assailing our hearts, minds, and spirits. Ultimately what I was facing was so “over the top” that I could not help but relent and fall into His arms. It wasn’t that I immediately went there first.
When I read Old Testament passages or histories of the faith it can sometimes be easy to deride the persons in those stories for their lack of faith, their flaws, and more. Then when a trial of my own comes along, I discover I am not always so much different than they are. I also discover those who stood when everyone around was faltering.
I look at David when he was considered to have nothing to offer by his brothers or much of anyone. He gives me a glimpse of the model I seek to emulate. The enemies surrounded Saul’s army and Goliath was bellowing and demeaning these chosen people of God as well as God Himself. When David arrived on the scene, he appears to have been shocked that no one had responded to Goliath and everyone seemed to be cowering in fear.
It can be easy to revere David and look at his courage, his skill with a sling, or even his youthful risk-taking as he called out Goliath to meet him on the field of battle. If we do, then we are failing to recognize the headline that day. I think it might have read something like this: “David Trusts God and Defeats His Enemies” or “Young Boy’s Trust Wins the Day”.
The story behind the headlines was even more important. David could only have trusted God in that moment if He truly knew Him. Knowing Him allowed David to trust Him. David had been the shepherd boy who had been tested before while caring for the sheep and looked up at the stars in the heavens and felt a certainty of God’s greatness and power. He had learned trust in other challenges. When it was time to choose how he would respond to the taunts of Goliath, the answer was clear to him.
I like to think God stood up that day as he heard young David when he reminded the faltering men of Saul’s armies that Goliath was defying the armies of the living God and pronounced his unwavering trust that God would deliver him. His earlier experiences had helped David to know God with a certainty that allowed him to rest in the trust that God would be with him. He even reviewed his history (his testimony) with God for the army around him as the source of his faith.
My response and yours when those days of upending and shaking come will likely be determined by my or your history with Him and if we have learned to rest or trust in Him. In the moment when we must choose, we cannot then summon up something that is not there.
If we have come to know Him, really know Him, then we will find it easier to fall into His arms and rest, trust that He has us in that moment and for eternity.
Why do we need to be desperate until we trust Him? Has He not given us enough evidence long before those life-altering experiences?
Psalm 121 is often attributed to David. The psalmist’s words give evidence that he knew the Lord well. Do we?
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.”