Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thought provoking

No sooner were Valerie and I talking about the seeming hypocrasy of worrying about personal rest in light of what God has us doing and has graced us with to do, I received the following from Pastor Jeff Evans. Feel free to check out his "thought for the week" blog at: http://www.thoughtfortheweek-jeff.blogspot.com/ It is a very interesting blog...not so much because I think we have been thoughtlessly busy bees without direction, although surely we are all susceptible to that in one way or another...but I have heard many preachers preach such a message...."you have to be moving for God to use you, you have to get out there and start with a plan and then God can mold or move you" and the fallacy that a ministry is our own, or what "we" do, when in fact we can do NO good (Biblical good...not some esoteric idea of what is good) apart from Him.


This weeks "thought" comes from an article entitled "Entering God's Rest," by Marc Brisebois. It was of help to me when I first read it years ago. I trust it could be of help to some of you as well. Enjoy.

"The fact that the world around us worships productivity makes the subject of rest a little thorny. The natural man functions from the premise that more effort generally means more productivity, and more time at work means the same... This principle of busyness is the catalyst for a great deal of "Christian" activity today. We like to be "doing" because it makes us feel like we have purpose. This activity is not to be confused with fruitfulness, however; and since it is our desire to be fruitful, we must look for something more effective than mere busyness. This search may require us to bring our present state of clamor to a halt. Unfortunately, stopping is very difficult for most to do, and makes others very nervous. We are often advised to keep moving, as it is easier for God to steer a moving vehicle than one which is at a standstill. This is a sound principle in physics, but there is no precedence in Scripture...
Likening the Christian to a sailboat would do more justice to the biblical principles we seek to live by. The believers responsibility, when it comes to handling the holy plans of the Lord, is to put up the sail and catch the wind of the Spirit, not provide the strength of propulsion...
Most of us prefer self-propulsion since we have neither the faith nor the patience to appreciate God's timing... The needless toil we often put ourselves through as the result of anxious fretting will usually have us doing much unnecessary labor. This steals our capacity to rest and be prepared for the labor to which we have been called...
The writer of Hebrews tells us there is a promise of rest which we may fail to enter because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19)... Working in our own strength can be very gratifying in the short-term but tends to cause burnout over the long haul... In the midst of this toil, the Father may try to speak to us. Unfortunately our fretful anxiety will deafen us to His voice. During this time the Lord patiently waits for our own strength to run out. Then, and often only then, can He begin to teach us about rest. Unbelief (the inability to trust God) requires vast amounts of human effort, ingenuity and resources. Faith, in order to produce requires only obedience, for when we labor in faith and obedience, we labor in the strength God provides."

It hints of the paradox of faith Isaiah had learned long ago when he prayed to the Lord on behalf of the people: "All that we have accomplished you have done for us." And again, four chapters later, God confirmed it. The people of Israel were frantically scurrying around seeking to avert disaster by all their efforts when He spoke to them and said: "In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." (Is. 30:15)
True believers learn it soon: The real source of fruitful and restful productivity is to move in the power of God where and when He is moving and bathe it all in prayer.
Luther put it well when he shared the secret of his fruitful productivity with a friend: "I have so much to do today I shall spend the first three hours in prayer."

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I happened to be re-readig a book this week called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzaro. The women's director at my US church recommended it to all ladies a few years ago. And then, this January, the whole church was invited to spend a several weeks studying the book and accompanying workbook. I was there when my pastor gave a startling talk about his need to change his workaholic approach to ministry. As a sometimes friend of our pastor and wife, I knew he was usually in overdrive, and I personally thought he overworked his staff. That's exactly what he 'fessed up that Sunday. I am anticipating a short trip to the US soon and I hope to see a more balanced man and church when I return. I highly recommend the book for anyone in mministry who feels like life has been a bit out of balance. Incidentally I struggle with balance in my own life as well, as my father was a dedicated workaholic, church leader, and extrovert. He often had little personal time or time for his wife and family. I think he regretted it later in life. Keep growing, and find that balance. Peace to you on that journey.