News and Views
RELAX IN THE LORD
'Tis the season for fresh resolutions and the frustration of not being able to keep them. I seem to hear similar effort and frustration as people tell me of their struggle and stress to know and do God's will. Somehow, I don't think that is quite what God intended.
Certainly God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, wants us to seek to know and obey Him. Our relationship with Him begins when we accept that Jesus died on the cross in our place because God loves us, and grows as we love Him in response and seek to know and understand Him better and try more and more to align our will with His will. However, our seeking to know Him and His will is intended to be a joyful journey of love, not a stressful struggle.
Centuries before Jesus, it was written in the Psalms, "Be still, and know that I am God." (46:10a NIV) Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30 NIV) Jesus also said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." (John 14:27 NIV) These statements indicate to me that our relationship with God is one of quietness, rest and peace. In Jesus Christ we find peace with God, then peace with ourselves, then greater peace with others. When we live in yoke with Jesus, the all-powerful, we find rest for our souls. Our seeking to know and obey God involves quiet stillness, peace, and rest in Him, not frantic doing and stressful struggles.
This does not deny a point of struggle within ourselves. Because of our rebellion against God, our sinful nature, we find it hard to truly want to do God's will. We continue to want to have our own way and try to tell God how we want Him to work things out in our lives and in the lives of those around us. For some of us, it takes a long time to truly recognize that God knows best. We fail to believe deep down that God loves us totally, far more than we can understand, and that loving us so much, God also knows us totally, better than we know ourselves, and that He also truly knows what is best for us and for everyone around us, and that He truly wants what is best for all of us because He loves us so much, and that He has the power to make that best happen. When we do truly believe all this about God and truly want to unite our will with His will, we can find a beautiful, restful peace and calm in life with Him.
Some may still wonder, "But how can we really know what is God's will for us?" Granted, recognizing God's will is a process, and knowing God and His love of the unique, I daresay that it is probably a unique process for each person. However, I suspect that there are also some constants. When we know God through Jesus and desire to do His will, we can know that God the Holy Spirit lives in us. (See John 14:15-21, 23-26 and I John 4:11-15) We know that God knows our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4), so we can tell God how much we want to know and do His will, and ask that His indwelling Spirit will guide our attitudes, thoughts and actions according to His will. We can be certain that this request is in tune with His will, so we can know that He will answer it. Then, as we go through each day, we include Him in our thoughts and plans and decisions. As we mull something over in our mind, we silently ask, "Lord, guide my thoughts in this matter," and simply trust that He does so. This is what I think Paul meant when he wrote, "Pray continually," in I Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV). We pray continually by being aware that God knows our every thought, that God is always in and with us, and then consciously inviting Him to be part of our ongoing thought processes. It seems strange at first, but with time it becomes natural to include Him in our questioning, our appreciation, our surprises, our learning, our efforts and work, as we more consistently send Him little thought messages, "Thank You, Lord. Help me, God. Father, what does this mean? What should I do about this?" etc. This is not a stressful struggle. This is a quiet inner conversation which brings peace and rest as we walk with our Lord.
There is an additional consideration. God's will for us will never contradict His principles as given to us in His written Word, so the better we understand the Bible, the easier it will be to recognize His will and to recognize when we are wanting to depart from it. We are quite capable of some pretty fancy rationalizing to try to make what we want to appear good and right in spite of our wishes contradicting God and His Word, so we always have to be honest with ourselves and God.
It is my prayer that each one of you may find in this New Year the place of quiet peace and rest and constant communion with our God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
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