I have been largely wordless this past week. I think it’s because I’ve been grappling with these new things God is teaching me — in Bible class, in old notes suddenly discovered, in the remarks of friends and even through my own reflections, like the post about the fruit ripening.
Our lessons continue to be about living in the peace and rest of God. The peace and rest of knowing that we have been reconciled to the living God, to the creator and controller of the universe… Let me rephrase that: knowing that I have been reconciled to the living God. That there really is no more condemnation. That it really is about resting in Him. Letting Him do it.
Letting Him write the book, arrange the time to write it, move me to write it when I do. Letting Him produce the self-control in me, rather than me striving to do that.
Back at the AZ conference I spoke to Pastor Joe briefly about that. How I get these glimpses of the peace that I could have and I back away. I see it, and then think, No, that can’t possibly be right. He referenced that conversation shortly afterward in his teaching, but his take was not that it couldn’t be right, but that it was scary. I thought at the time that it wasn’t scary, just didn’t seem possible.
That conversation has been brought to my attention numerous times since. Pastor Joe has mentioned it himself, but I’ve also thought about it. And finally today in class, when I heard it yet again, something clicked. It is scary. Because it’s so not like what the world says, what man says, what I am comfortable with. The old ways.
We’re studying about the new things that have come and the old things that have passed away (2 Co 5:17). And it’s a big subject with lots of complexities, the latter, I think, mainly produced by my own faulty thinking, which has come from the world. But if man’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and his ways aren’t God’s and if, as Pastor Bob says, everything is opposite in God’s way… then it makes a kind of sense that the way to acquire self-control is to stop trying to acquire it. Stop trying to control myself (if only I were more disciplined! If only I could effectively use the time I’ve been given…) (And even those if onlies have been refuted in the past month. They are unrealistic expectations, the result of the flesh thinking it can fix itself with some self improvement effort. When it’s impossible to improve a dead man…
But I digress. The only way to acquire self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit and not of me, is to stop trying to acquire it. Stop trying to love people, stop trying to live for others… and live for Him. Make it your goal to acquire not self-control, or love or selflessness, but to acquire His mind. When you acquire His mind, you think like Him, you want what He wants and the other stuff just follows.
And the first thing that comes out of thinking as He thinks is the awareness that I am reconciled to Him forever. There is not one thing I can ever do wrong that will un-reconcile me. It’s done. He sees me as He has made me: perfectly righteous, because I have His own righteousness. And the work of righteousness shall be peace. And the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. (Is 32:17)
But only if you consider it. Only if you turn your mind in this direction. The only thing we are to fear is failing to enter His rest. (Heb 4:1) He wants us to be at rest.
And the only way we fail is by not believing. Not believing that the work is finished and there is literally NOTHING we can add. Not believing His promises that if we seek Him first, HE will add all things to us. Not believing His word that He will provide all we need, that He will always be there, never leave or forsake us…
Can it really be that easy? Yes, I believe it can be. And I now think that yes, part of my aversion to simply letting go of it all was indeed fear. Fear that I’d just sit about like a wastrel and do nothing. It’s interesting to contemplate that thought now, because I see the flesh protesting in it. I see that from the flesh’s viewpoint, there is no power but its own. If it does nothing, then nothing will happen. But that is wrong. When the flesh does nothing, the Spirit of God is freed to work. He waits until we step back and let Him.
The problem is, we really have to step back and then we have to wait. We have to rest in utter confidence. We have to be convinced — absolutely convinced that what the Bible says is true — and then we rest. I can still plan my day, or make a list of some things that can be done… but not with the attitude that I’m going to do it. That I’m going to take responsibility for seeing it all done. That’s not what my life’s about.
My life is about following my Lord. Staying in fellowship with Him. Being alert to His leading. Not trying to take control and get my human power in there, with my plans and attempts to control things. My ideas of who I should be and what I should be doing, crappy ideas that I have picked up over the years that do nothing but provoke me to self-condemnation. They need to be rejected. Ideas like If you don’t write every day, you’re not a writer. If you don’t have a special time to do your work, you’re not a professional. These people are depending on you. You have an obligation.
Oh really? I have an obligation to people? I think not. My only obligation is to my Master. I’ve been bought with a price, and I am obligated to serve the one who bought me and no one else. (though of course in serving Him I do serve them, but not out of guilt, sense of “responsibility”, obligation, etc. Freeing thoughts. Challenging thoughts. Scary thoughts. Way out of the mainstream kind of thoughts…
But I like them. And I think they are right.
And with that, I guess I wasn’t so wordless after all.