“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
This verse means a lot of me. Every time I read it and scriptures like it, they brings conviction and relief. I figured it would be beneficial to take some time to process why that is, and in doing so, maybe encourage other ‘crazies’ like me who strive way too much, and rest in knowing God way too little.
I’ll start by saying, we all struggle with this – I think that’s why Sabbath is so important to God. Also why in Deuteronomy, God and Moses keep telling the people of Israel, Remember, remember, remember. Do you like me, forget that the ‘remembering’ and ‘knowing’ is almost more important than the doing? Knowing God is a command. It’s not an option. Remembering is an act of obedience to center your mind on knowing God – what God has already done for you, generally and specifically, – focusing you on what and whom really matters in this life because simply, as Israel is a good example, we forget. Forgetfulness is also associated with foolishness. When we forget God, we act as fools. When we forget the bigness of God, how he intervened to save us, how he forgives you of the sin you are committing right now, how he is the LORD over everything, how we are nothing outside of his grace and love, we begin to act out of our heart, will and pride which ends up causing us to be the fool.
If your like me, you are not naturally prone to humility, grace, patience, love, and long suffering. When i am striving, I have usually forgotten some truth. Something in my thinking has become off-kilter, and I am running on a path that is leading me away from surrender, peace and God.
I grew up thinking that my actions produced outcomes. The good in life was because of my effort and the bad was directly because I failed. Also, because of some of my early relationships, I believed my whole worth was in serving and helping others. I didn’t know who I was or how to be outside of another person. Because of all this, I believed God was mad at me when people or situations failed because it was “in my hands to fix” (lie!). If i succeed, i felt secure, whether or not God was actually happy with me. I didn’t need to ask him. This made me very big and God very small. If I couldn’t succeed or if I was unable to make someone happy or helped, I had somehow failed. What is so sad, is how untrue all this is. Living these lies robbed me of peace when things failed, or taking way too much responsibility when really, situations weren’t always in my hands or control. I might have a slight influence, but ultimately I do not have the final say how things work out – whether I succeed at my job, whether my son falls asleep, or whether my friend “thinks” I am a loving friend. And even though I may not have anxiety attacks when I am alone anymore, my heart still wanders back to the bondage of striving to create the “Ends” i want, forgetting only God deserves that role.
So i am reminded to rest. Rest in the last part of that verse…God says “Cease striving” but pairs it with the truth about himself….“I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.” I can rest in knowing god is with me. He is my stronghold, my safe refuge. I do not need to strive, because he has already done it. He has done the hard work… now i just follow. I don’t need to work for my salvation. I don’t need to worry about outcomes, cause I am not Lord of my life. Nor am i all powerful to change anything. I am not Maker or Creator. I am disciple, follower, worshiper and relier. And God does such a better job. So you do your thing God, I will stay out of it. You are holy, and i am not. You are making all things new, and I am just beholding your works. And thats the place I want to be – Beholding your wonders – So please keep making me new.