After a long and intense season of seeking to be elsewhere than where He had me, the Lord posed the following question:
Why do you fear stillness?
My simple and authentic answer to this question was, “Because I want to do what I want.”
I’d been living in a pattern of seeking to be elsewhere – finding no contentment in current relationship, vocation, location, circumstances. Even in a crowd of friends in the most fascinating of diversions, I would find myself setting my mind on where else I could be and what else I could be doing with my life. In this tormenting season, I feverishly pursued other avenues that I called adventure, hardening my heart to the fact that I was right in the middle of the greatest adventure of all time – right where God had me for such a time as this.
When the fires of refinement grew hotter I doubted that God was the One in control of the temperature.
My heart and eyes began to wander, coveting greener pastures. I was moved by circumstance rather than His promptings. I sought to make life changing decisions from pure logic instead of walking by faith. In the natural world this is a common way to operate, but we who follow Jesus walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). When He says go we go, when He says stay we stay. I found myself weighing pros and cons to make decisions rather than seeking Him and obediently stepping out or waiting as a result of His guidance. In a particular situation, He was not telling me to step, He was telling me to wait – which is much harder sometimes. After much wasted time and effort, when I finally got still enough to really hear Him, I discovered that I had been moving out of by panic rather than inspiration birthed from intimacy with the Almighty.
Oh, let us be content even in the discomfort and wait upon Him to make our way.
I realized sadly that I had begun taking my life into My own hands rather than offering it to Him. I had set my heart on finding satisfaction in various areas of my life that I did not particularly enjoy at the moment. One such trap came in my vocation. I sought to find a job that I thought would highlight my talents and skills, rather than stay where He was pouring through Me.
The tendency to seek greener pastures can rear its restless head not only in our jobs, but in relationships, identity, and any area of our lives where we can become dissatisfied. Had I moved to escape that specific situation, in my new seemingly lusher greener pasture, He would have started the lesson all over again – the refining fires would have flamed up, the restlessness would have soon returned, I would again be seeking to move rather than be planted as a lush tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in season (Psalm 1).
Such rebellious acts of disobedience in seeking our own way in our own time can be evidenced in both small and great areas of our lives. How crucial to forsake our own fleeting whims for seeming adventure and intrigue. How important each choice to follow Him, for such flesh driven decisions can can affect not just us but countless others connect with our lives.
What becomes of Me is in His hands. May I delight Him in stillness, not futile action.
When at last I came to the end of my strength because His peace had been so far from me, I repented before God and said, “Here is My life, I will stay or go as You will.” This conscious act of surrender immediately restored fellowship with His irreplaceable presence. In a moment, the torment I had been living in, the busyness, the relentless restlessness was swallowed up as His peace overflowed my parched soul. The floodgates were opened and as His rivers of living water flowed into My Spirit. The current demolished the callouses surrounding my heart of rebellion that for months had lifted its bitter fist in the air proclaiming, “I will do what I want!” (We may use other words and paradigms to justify our actions, but that’s basically the dialogue of an unyielding heart.)
After this heart turning, I looked to the days ahead without dread or fear and said, “I am to stay right where I am at, doing those things He has called me to do. If I am exalted or debased, I will stand for here He has planted me for a season. I will grow and blossom and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living right here.” In days to come, if God moves me I shall move, if He continues to hem me in I shall stay. Now, I am as a weaned child with its mother (Psalm 131).
God recognizes our tantrums as a futile attempt to escape what is uncomfortable!
When contentment is far from us it is a sign that we have begun operating from a place of limited thinking. We focus on the discomfort and cast off the foundational beliefs based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross – that all things are possible through Christ, that He makes a way out of no way, that our times are in His hands, that He works all things for good to those who love Him – who are called according to His purposes.Thus we try to fill our hearts with a contentment of our own making.
Let us not seek to go our own way. Let us not manipulate the circumstances to try and make it look like He is making a way for us. Let us not move to find relief when He says stay. If we have, let us repent. Let us offer back our lives to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12), so that we clearly hear His voice once again and contentedly walk at the pace He has set for us in the pasture He has prepared for us.
We may not even realize how unyielding we are, for we fear to be still. When we are still and wait upon Him, He brings to light even our hidden intentions. With such a life surrender, oh what mighty acts of His we will behold. How He desires to move on behalf of those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64).
He is a gracious, merciful, and loving Redeemer. There is no condemnation for those who have made such missteps, for there is opportunity for repentance and a turning of the exhausted wandering heart and overly-taxed mind back to Him. This is why we are here: to know Him as he fashions us into His image. He moves us from strength to strength and from glory to glory. It is not too late to offer your life to Him. When we yield and surrender our whole lives to Him, then at last, we will not fear stillness.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”
“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”