Tag: Rest

Resting in Confident Expectation

This article originally appeared in The Proclaimer newsletter for Tom Edwards Evangelistic Society, Inc.

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By Tom Edwards, Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinator

“Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” (Ps 46:11)

The verse above is taken from a Psalm that begins by speaking of an earth that is being shaken, waters roaring, mountains quaking nations raging, kingdoms tottering. It is a picture of chaos and confusion and would certainly find an application for our world in the present moment. Yet, the Psalm is a song of confidence in the absolute sovereignty of a God who provides security in the midst of chaos and peace in the times of confusion.

The command to “be still” is an imperative, a translation of a Hebrew word meaning to be weak, to let go, to cause yourself to release your grip.

As the Israelites stood at the edge of the Red Sea with the waters before them and the enemy pressing in behind them, Moses said: “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today. The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still” (Ex 14:13a, 14). Again, when Joshua was leading the people into the promised land, it was necessary to cross the Jordan River—which was raging at ultimate flood stage. The priestly bearers of the Ark waded into the river and the waters flowing from upstream halted, backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance. As all Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests bearing the ark stood motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan. The were completely “still” until the whole nation had passage (Jo 2:14-17).

The concept of “being still” does not necessarily imply that one is to be immobile. But it does mean that in times of trial and trouble, in times when burdens are overwhelming, when circumstances are beyond control, then step back—take your hands off—and relax! It’s time to wait upon God. Someone once said “He who waits on God loses no time.”

Note that the command to “be still” is linked to the command “and know.” Indeed there is no experiential “knowing” until one becomes “still.” Knowing is not just an intellectual assent to God, but rather a practical spiritual and emotional confidence in He who is your God! He is the ruler of all the kingdoms of this earth and beyond. He is the almighty Creator and ruler of the universe. He is the Lord of our minutest care and our most complex quandaries. We surrender to He who is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in time of trouble. We acknowledge Him as the ultimate source of all healing. We relinquish our trust in self and abandon our own clever designs so that we might come to know the all-sufficiency of a glorious God.

This does not mean that we shirk our responsibility or that we cease to take the initiative to live out the duties of life. The Lord expects us to utilize the gifts and talents He has given us to full measure. However, personal initiative will never be an adequate substitute for reliance upon God.

The life of a Christian involves what might sound like a contradiction: “active rest.” We find the “still place” in Him and our labors flow out of that rest. We also must be cautious not to fall into the trap of “presumption”:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”—you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin. (Jas 4:13-17)

Yes, life will have its battles. King David had to slay many giants after his youthful encounter with Goliath. David lost some of his battles, especially when yielding to temptations of the flesh that entangled him in a downward spiral of deadly sins. Yet, in the end he was found to be a man after the heart of God—”the apple of God’s eye.” How did he do it? The answer to that question certainly lies in the sincere repentance that enabled him to pen the following immortal words while resting in confident expectation:

“The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” (Ps 23)

Abide with the Lord

Lent begins this month, which makes it a perfect time to share the following reflections by Ralph Martin, on resting—abiding—with the Lord. The following article is compiled from a talk that Ralph originally shared at a recent Renewal Ministries’ staff retreat.

Why do we have this time on earth? We are here to get ready to be with Jesus. To prepare to be with our Lord, we must strive “for the holiness without which nobody will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

Sometimes we miss how clear and absolute what Jesus says is. An essential aspect of striving for holiness is “abiding in the Lord”—simply being present with Jesus.

Picture an image of the beloved disciple John resting his head on Jesus. What amazing confidence in His trustworthiness, fidelity, loyalty, and love! Only the love of God is perfectly reliable—something we can rest the whole weight of our lives on. God wants us to live in surrender, confidence, and trust. In order to do this, we must take the time to be attentive to the Lord, to be in His presence.

Christ loved the Church by sacrificing Himself for us so He could present Himself wholly and without blemish—and He asks us to love in this same way. To live in this way, we must tap into the supernatural. He says, “apart from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Thankfully, He also says, “for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).

However, while we must offer the Lord all of our loaves and fishes (Mt 14:17-18), we also must then dispose ourselves to God’s action; we can’t try to force God’s action. We must be open to receive from the Lord, instead of taking, even the good things that we think may be His will for us. This is why it is important to work from our rest, from our abiding with Jesus. We need to act in a way that allows God’s power to come into our actions. Abiding has value.

The Lord wants to be close to us. He had us in mind before He created the universe. He really chooses us. “He destined us in love to be His sons” (Eph 1:5). He created us to be holy and to love. Ultimately, there is no other vocation than holiness and love.

In order to live this way, we must get clear in our thinking. We must be sober. As 1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Christian hope, hope in Jesus, consists of sins forgiven, death overcome, eternal life, and union with God. The gift that’s coming to us is the gift for which we were created—perfect love and community.

Consider the simplicity of it all: Fatima, Guadalupe, and Lourdes—the mysterious action of God. At Lourdes, our Blessed Mother appeared to a fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette, in a difficult family situation, in dire poverty, living in an old jail cell that was not fit for prisoners. She appeared to Bernadette eighteen times and eventually described herself as the “Immaculate Conception,” which indicates our Blessed Mother’s conception without sin, a title that the Church had given her only four years before the appearances at Lourdes. Bernadatte was uneducated and could not read or write; as her local priest later wrote, “She could never have invented this.”

After one of the apparitions, in which our Blessed Mother asked Bernadette to dig in the ground for a spring and to wash her face, Bernadette both humiliated herself by covering her face with mud as she drank and uncovered a spring that had not been known to previously exist. People continue to flock to Lourdes today, and many healings have been attributed to their prayers at the waters there.

After each of her visits with the “Beautiful Lady”—which is how Bernadette originally described our Blessed Mother—Bernadette’s own face was transformed and radiant with joy. Lourdes is not heavy on messages—it’s heavy on the reality and beauty of heaven and the supernatural. Bernadette would bow down to the ground and show profound reverence for the holiness of heaven revealing itself. She also made the Sign of the Cross with such reverence that it showed the holiness of the Trinity.

After the last apparition, Bernadette stayed in Lourdes another eight years and became illuminated every time she told the story of Mary’s appearances. She eventually joined a convent and lived a quiet life of prayer and suffering. Bernadette experienced ill health throughout the rest of her life and died at age thirty-five. In fact, our Blessed Mother had told Bernadette that she did “not promise to make (her) happy in this life, but in the next.” Now, almost 140 years later, Bernadette’s body remains incorrupt.

Much of Mary’s message at Lourdes was personal to Bernadette, about Bernadette joining her suffering to the suffering of Christ for the salvation of souls. However, Mary also called all of us to penance, penance, penance—prayer and sacrifice, just like in Fatima.

The last time Bernadette saw Mary was from across a river, because she couldn’t go to the grotto. For fifteen minutes, Bernadette said “all Mary did was look at me with love, and I’ve never seen her so beautiful.”

How often do we take time to abide with the Lord and ask Him to show us His love for us—to look at us with love? That is the only way we can go forward in His will, better loving Him and others.

Bernadette’s simplicity should reinforce our understanding of the fact that, unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the kingdom of God. Being like a little child affects our ability to receive the word He speaks to us. Let’s keep pressing on while resting in the heart of Jesus, allowing Him to little by little transform us into His likeness.

Rest in Him. Abide in Him. Be a child.