Resting in Faith
Sometimes resting in faith is more difficult than working toward it. Resting requires more faith than doing. Not only do we need to let go of people and situations beyond our control, but we have to let go of everything—even the things that we can fix by working hard. Resting in faith means believing that God’s purpose will prevail because He is God, not because of anything we’ve done, or anything we’ve yet to do. Events will unfold at their own time. When God tells us to rest, we need to have faith that He will take care of everything during that time.
When I was a teenager I had a poster that said “Pray as if it’s up to God and then work as if it’s up to you.” I was completely committed to that motto. And I worked hard. I worked very hard. I worked hard at school, at relationships, and at my spiritual life. I continued to work hard every year of my life. It never occurred to me that my poster was lacking in depth. On the surface, this was good advice, but when looking deeper, it was actually quite horrible advice for someone like me. The motto justified my weak position: I felt more comfortable when I could do things for myself. As long as I could fix the problem by working harder, I knew I had everything under control.
But you see, God has everything under control. A strong work ethic is a wonderful thing, and God appreciates good and faithful servants, but He doesn’t want us to confuse working hard with “earning” spiritual rewards that we can’t possibly earn. Sure, the Bible mentions that we’ll be rewarded for our good deeds. That’s not what I mean. I mean that we never have to earn God’s love. And what is love, according to God?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
We don’t need to do anything to earn God’s love and in fact we can’t earn it. When we are full of God’s love we believe all things, we hope all things and we endure all things. We can rest upon the Lord, knowing that He’ll take care of shop while we’re gone. We’ve left things in the best possible hands!
Renewing our Strength
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Faith is a blessing. It’s not just about obedience, discipline and letting go. It’s about resting. It’s about believing that the Lord will renew our strength. We will become like eagles! We will run! We won’t be weary. We will walk. We will not faint.
Remember where we were on our imaginary faith journey? We were riding down the open road with the sunroof down. The wind was in our hair, the sun was shining upon us, and we were eager to see what God had in store for us right around the bend. Our next adventure will be exhilarating! God has something big in store for us.
Let Him prepare us. Let us rest. Let us have faith that God will renew our strength. He won’t let us fall. He won’t let us fall down. We won’t be faint. We will walk. We will run. We will fly!
Rest up, my friend. We have left the car. We have boarded a plane! We can take a nap while the pilot drives.
When my mother was ill she was missing her own mom. I noticed when the sadness took over her and there wasn’t anything I do about it. While I had been a good daughter to her, I could never replace her mother. My mother was choked up when she said, “Mom was a hard worker.”
If you have children, you are leaving them a legacy whether you make a conscious effort to do so or not. They will know who you were and what you did with your life. What will your life mean to them? What does your life mean to them now? It’s never too late to change directions. It’s never too late to finish what we’ve started. If you’ve veered off the path or if you’ve gotten stuck in traffic, it’s not too late to get back on track.
It’s also never too early to think about how we’d like to be remembered. Imagine that the Bible was still being written today. Imagine that our stories were included! What would be of significance to mention? What have we done to inspire others? What have we done that illustrates a point that Jesus wants us to learn? Have we given Him our last penny? Have we washed His feet? Have we let in a stranger at our door? What have we done? What is our legacy?
I have created two picture books as a tribute to my parents. The first is “Grandpa Smiles”. I illustrated it with my oil paintings. The story is about my son and my father. You can get the e-book version of “Grandpa Smiles” free, by the way, and you can watch me paint the pictures too. But that’s not the book I want to talk about. The second book is called “Nana Plays”. It is about my mom.
Through these books I helped shape my parents’ legacy. This was easy to do for my dad because my relationship with him was uncomplicated. It was much more difficult to do for my mother, but I prayed over it and in the end I know that I did right by her. I know that I represented the legacy that she wanted to be remembered by.
Most important to her in all the world was her three grandchildren, my children. “Nana Plays” is about my youngest child and Mom. Frozen in time within the pages of that book is a painted representation of Mom playing “Pretty, Pretty Princess” with Savannah, then a little girl. Savannah’s memory of Nana as a playful and fun grandmother will be forever fresh. The paintings live on, and so does her love of her grandchildren.
Take a leap of faith to create a legacy for yourself. You are stronger than you think you are. You are capable of doing more than you expect to be able to do. You can leave a lasting mark on this world. You can make a difference. Sometimes all you need to do is love one small child to be remembered forever.
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour
1 John 2:24-26
Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
And my personal favorite:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
I could have kept going with these references to eternal life or life everlasting. God has promised it to us over and over. And this is for our benefit—it is meant to give us hope! If we truly believe that we’ll have eternal life, there is nothing left to fear.
We can trust that God will see us through to the other side. Not even death is a permanent condition. We will live again, forever. One day we’ll see our loved ones again. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Now I can’t pretend that I know what all of this means exactly. How do we all fit in the same house? Do we really need to understand the mystery of all of this? Somehow, I just know that the words in these Scriptures are true. I know it. Do you know it? How do you know?
We know it because we have faith that it is true. Some of us have had firsthand spiritual experiences that have convinced us of this truth. Others have had to believe in eternal life based solely on hearing the stories of others, studying the Scriptures, and trusting in God’s written promises. If you’ve never experienced a miracle, please read other people’s stories about encounters with angels and miracles. There are more books and compilations of these stories than I could even begin to list! You’ll find these collections easily with a simple keyword search, a quick browsing of a bookstore’s aisles, or a trip to your local library. Have I ever experienced unexplained events, mysterious circumstances or divine intervention? That’s a book for another day.
Today’s focus is not on convincing you of an afterlife or of eternal life. It is about assuming that you already believe in these things. And if you do, I encourage you to anchor yourself to that truth. Believing that we will one day live with God forever has the power to sustain our faith for all the days of our life here on Earth. When we know that our salvation is assured, when we know that we’ll one day live in Heaven with those who have gone before us, when we know that Jesus is there waiting for us, how can we fear? There’s nothing to fear and everything to gain. There is joy and peace for all of us. We only need to have faith.
God bless you on your faith journey. May you feel the wind in your hair and may the sun shine upon you. May you walk, may you run, may you fly!
Homework for Chapter Six
1. Do you have enough faith to rest upon the Lord?
Hints: Do you get enough sleep at night? Do you frequently feel “under the weather”, do you often catch colds or other viruses, or do you suffer from stress related illnesses? Does your mind race when you’re trying to sleep? Do you have difficulty focusing on the task at hand because your mind is always working on the next task? Are you too busy to worship and rest one day of the week?
2. Make a list of 5 ways to renew your strength.
Hints: There’s a lot we can do to take care of ourselves. Do you exercise regularly? Do you eat well? Do you make time for friends? Do you read books for pleasure? Do you take time out to play games with the children in your life? Do you spend time in nature? Do you paint, write poetry, or play music?
3. What is your legacy? What would you like to be remembered for? Think of the fruits of the Spirit for ideas. Which of these spiritual gifts are your personal strengths? Perhaps you can build a legacy around these gifts. Who can you help? How can you make a difference?
4. What do you imagine when you think about eternal life? How does God’s promise of an everlasting life encourage you to continue on your pilgrimage?
Hints: Do you think about streets of gold, people or animals you’ve loved, or seeing Jesus? Do you think about freedom from pain and illness, freedom from struggle, or freedom from death?
5. Pray about your faith journey. Write about it in your prayer journal. Ask for rest when you are weary. Seek encouragement when you feel weak. Keep track of prayers asked and answered. Write updates in your journal about how you’re doing.
If you are doing this exercise with a partner or group:
Make a plan for how you’ll continue to support each other after this devotional is over. Consider meeting once a month to share highlights from your prayer journals. Help each other through your pilgrimage. We don’t have to travel alone.
Assignment: Even if you’ve already read it before, please read the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan or my personal favorite “Little Pilgrim’s Progress” by Helen Taylor. Reading a classic allegorical book about a pilgrimage is a wonderful way to motivate yourself for continuing success on your faith journey.