For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64:4 NLT)
There is a foundational spiritual principle for realizing inner peace, transformation and breakthrough in life. And it is this, it only happens when we choose to rest and let God do the work. This is a simple truth but it is not easy to do because it is counter intuitive to human reason and how the world operates.
The fact remains, in the spiritual realm and in God’s kingdom it is all about His work from beginning to end. Our relationship with God, His choice of us, our acceptance and forgiveness, our very sonship is based upon His work and not ours. Paul writes citing Abraham as an example: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes (trusts) in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:4-5 ESV)
In God’s economy the operating principle for increase is not driven by earning, but by receiving. Therefore it is God’s delight to “gift” His creation with good things like righteousness and salvation. The main thing required of us is not work but trust. There is a big difference between those two, working versus trusting. When that understanding first dawned on me as an unredeemed struggling sinner, and it actually happened when those two verses out of Romans jumped off the page into my heart at a home bible study, it rocked my world. I felt liberated from the frustration and inability on my part to earn acceptance from God and I found myself rejoicing in that fact that what I could not do for myself, God had already done and was offering it as a free gift. His only requirement of me was that I trust Him to do it – to cease from my work and trust Him to do the work.
Recently I had to have a minor surgery on my hand. It required submitting myself to anesthesia and the care and skill of my doctor and those who attended him. I would not have done it if I had not trusted the surgeon to do what I could not do myself. Because I was “out” during the whole procedure, it could be said I was ceasing from my labors in “resting” while I trusted him do all the work. As a result, I have become the recipient of a new and better functioning hand.
God works in us in the same way when we trust Him enough to change us in ways we cannot change ourselves. One of the great promises of God’s good intentions to transform our lives for the better is in Philippians 2:13. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (ESV) Here again it is all about God’s work and not ours. Each of us needs to be assured “that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
One of the stumbling blocks we must overcome in order to let God work while we rest is our impatience. God’s timetable is not the same as ours and our temptation is often to take things into our own hands. Every man and woman of faith in the bible and throughout history have had to wrestle with this. Abraham’s self-effort in producing Ishmael is a case in point. That is why God says that it is through “faith and patience” we inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12) Isaiah the prophet in marveling at the wonders and fruit of patience declares “for since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for Him!” (Isaiah 64:4 NLT) Just pause and consider the good news in that verse. God promises to work, as we agree to wait. That is a promise that I find myself often returning to and confessing as I seek to rest, and cease from self-effort, while God works.
The motivation for waiting patiently is rooted in being convinced that God’s work will give us a better result than if we attempted the work ourselves. In other words, we trust that God is working, albeit behind the scenes, for our good in the end. Getting back to my surgery, I would never have submitted to that operation and the inconvenience of recovery, aftercare and rehab, if upfront I had not been convinced by my surgeon that he was able in the end to give me a better quality of life. That in essence is the assurance Paul gives us with regard to God’s “surgeries” in our lives. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) What a comfort and strength to be reassured that God is not only working in our lives, but He is working for our good!
I don’t know about you, but there are some areas in my life where I’ve been impatient and tempted with self-effort, but can see God trying to convince me to rest and trust Him that He is working behind the scenes for my good.
So I must ask the question of both myself and you dear reader . . . “If God is working, is it time you took a rest?”
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