Finding Perfect Peace
Picture an old hourglass, dusty and draped with cobwebs. The bulk of the sand is still on the top – it's leaking ever so slowly down the narrow opening, one granule at a time. The sand pile in the bottom half doesn't appear to be growing. Time seems to be standing still. Have you ever felt that your dreams and hopes weren't going to be able to outlast the time it was taking? Has it seemed that the promises of God were coming to you as slowly as a drop of sand in an hour glass? Striving against time is one of the greatest robbers of our effectiveness during the days of waiting. Watching days, months and years go by, often spent in fruitless labors of our own doing, trying so hard to find the life we long to be living. From personal experience, I've found that when I lose sight of faith in God's control, I start wondering about what I've done wrong – am I believing wrong? Am I not praying enough? Not giving enough? Not doing enough? This puts the responsibility on me to perform - to be good enough to merit God's blessings. And this places my faith in me, not God. Fact is, I'll never be good enough – that is why my loving Father gave me the gift of grace! When I look to myself as the source of help, I'll always fall short and get under condemnation. This is where so many Christians have missed out on God. They have no hope for the future – they know their limitations and they give up because they can see no way out. They are right too – whenever we depend on ourselves and on our abilities, we have nothing but disappointments and heartaches in front of us.
Do we trust God with our lives? What if the promises never came to us – will we still trust God and go to our graves believing in His promises? Is our devotion to God based on His performance within a predetermined time frame of ours? Will we only believe to a certain point and then throw our arms up, discouraged, wounded and saying that it is useless to serve God? Only when we can rest in His love, with hearts full of faith in knowing that He is the loving and caring authority in our lives can we say "Lord, I'll wait indefinitely"!
Whenever I start to question "why?", I immediately must stop the thoughts and start my mouth. I remind my mind that I didn't just give God my heart when I accepted Jesus – I gave Him my life. He took my old life and crucified it, giving me new birth - a new life - an opportunity to receive "above and beyond all that I could ever ask or think". Because God is master of my life, then the responsibility to make something out of my life becomes His, not mine. If my choice is truly to serve Him, then He will do whatever it takes to change me so that I will fulfill His call on my life. It means laying down our agenda - laying down our perceptions, presumptions and truly yield to Him with each instruction. It means turning time over to Him with great confidence and assurance that His promises will not fall short, not one single minute. He will always provide us with the perfect time and the necessary time to accomplish whatever it is that each of us is destined to accomplish – when our hearts are turned toward Him.
I've heard some ministers say that God is waiting on me. Answers based on my performance again! The only thing God waits on us for is the consecration of our lives to Him. Once the choice is made all He expects us to do is love Him. When we love Him, we will obey Him. To obey Him demonstrates that we have faith in Him. I want to encourage you, that if your heart is to serve Him no matter what the cost, God is working everything out and He will perfect all that concerns you!
Waiting on God. Does this mean sitting idly by while God does all the work – expecting Him to drop a basket of blessings in our lap? I think of waiting on God like a servant that waits on his master. Always willing to serve – always quick to obey. Going about doing good - obeying His word - listening to His voice and always saying "yes"! Waiting on the Lord can also means ministering to Him. We do this through praise, worship and fellowship. Taking time under our control and investing it into our relationship with the Lord. Believe with all your heart and mind that "He is God and He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him". When you do this, you will be able to look back on this time in your life and say 'it was all worth the wait'!!
Waiting on the Lord means to rest in His provision. He has given us more than we ever could have hoped for in our salvation. He worked great and mighty miracles to bring each and every one of us into His family. We belong to Him – we don't belong to ourselves any longer. Making my mark in life is no longer dependent on me and my abilities. Resting in His love. The only way we can do this is to get to know Him personally - through prayer and through the Word. We must learn to have confidence that someday we probably will understand the reasons why things didn't happen as quick as we thought they should. There are so many lives intertwined with ours, and the Lord is working on all of us simultaneously. Unfortunately, not all of us are ready to make the commitment to Him in the same time period. Sometimes it is other people in our lives that delay our receiving. Often times it is opposition from the enemy through people and circumstances. Sometimes its our own fears that keep us from receiving as quick as God desires. His Word tells us that "the peace of God that passes all (human) understanding will guard our hearts" (thoughts, feelings and emotions). He also tells us to "lean not to our own understanding (of the circumstances), but in all our ways (including time), acknowledge Him (His control over everything we've committed to Him) and He will direct our paths." It just doesn't get any easier than that!
It is so vitally important that we reach a position of resting in Him and waiting on Him and seeking His face. And it is okay to ask God for knowledge and understand about what is going on. And sometimes, when we hear from Him, He doesn't reveal all there is to know about a situation right away. This is what trusting in God is all about. Trusting His timing - trusting His love and trusting His goodness.
Malachi 3:13-18 tells us about a group of Christians who were questioning God's timing. Carefully read what they were saying.
"Your words have been harsh against Me", says the Lord. "Yet you say, 'what have we spoken against you?' You have said, it is useless to serve God; (you have said) What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of Hosts? (you have said) 'So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised;' (you have said) 'they even tempt God and go free.'"
Aren't we all guilty of thinking and speaking what we see and hear in this world? It's difficult to tell any difference in the talk of a "believer" from that of people in the world, who, without Christ, are without hope. We must recognize that we are speaking harshly against the Lord when we speak in agreement with the circumstances that have prevented us from taking possession of the land. But when we speak in agreement to what our eyes see, what our ears hear and what our minds think, we are not trusting in God's promises. And those words are "harsh against" God. This applies whether we are speaking to ourselves or to a friend as well as when we are speaking to God!
What you truly believe in is what you will be speaking. "Out of the abundance of the heart (thoughts, feelings and emotions) the mouth speaketh." When we speak words of defeat and discouragement, we are agreeing with what the devourer has said. We are essentially saying "yes, this is what it looks like and I guess things will never change." The hook we have swallowed is so carefully disguised that we can be like the Christians in Malachi and not even understand what we are doing and the consequences of what we are saying. The Word says these people didn't understand what God was talking about when He corrected them! Negative talk is a natural way to talk and we usually are not aware we are being negative.
The abundance of our heart needs to be overflowing with God's Words of love, care, protection and provision for us. Our hearts will either contain faith or doubt. There's only one way to change the way we talk and that is to be "renewed in the power of our mind by the Word of God." We must agree with God's Word - that we are who He says we are; that we can do what He says we can do.
We can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are living by faith and that we are trusting God, but if our mouths are not speaking the truth of Gods Word concerning our circumstances, we will never make it. If our words are full of fear, doubt and failure we do not have faith in our hearts. "Without this faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God." Now that isn't just my theory – that is the Word of God! God doesn't bless us just because He loves us and has compassion on us. If God were moved by love and compassion there would not be one hurting, dying person in all the world. Not one person would ever go to hell because it is His will that "ALL" men should not perish. We would all still be living in the garden of Eden!
God has given us His instructions and continually guides us through His Word and His Spirit. It is up to us to choose His ways though – it's up to us to obey. If we will believe we will win. If we disbelieve we will always fail. "My people perish for a lack of knowledge." Says the Lord. Knowledge comes only by meditating in the Word and spending time in God's presence. By learning what God has to say about you and in believing what God says we are in the position to receive.
After you've checked your words and find that you are filled with faith, not only in your heart but also in your mouth, there is only one thing that you can do. That is "having done all to stand, stand." Stand in faith! Stand in rest! Stand in peace! Stand in love! When my heart and then my mouth agree with God, He has promised to open up the windows of heaven and pour out the blessings on me!! Are you expecting His blessings – or are you just hoping? There's a big difference in hope alone and hope that is anchored to faith. The Word says that "godliness is profitable". God says that we must believe that He is a "rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." He does not reward those that are having a hard time. He does not reward those who have been victimized. He does not reward those that He feels sorry for. He rewards those who believe in Him and believe that He is a rewarder. He rewards those who diligently seek Him. The dictionary defines 'diligent' "characterized by steady, earnest and energetic application and effort."
When your heart is filled with faith and you are walking in the joy of the Lord that comes from His presence, you can look forward to each new day no matter what the circumstances. You can live everyday for the Lord, being His waiter. The days won't be so long, and the time won't be so hard to deal with any longer. The peace and rest that we'll partake of will be better than our highest dreams for the future. When we trust the Lordship of our God and trust our times to His care, we will not be wishing away our time by always living for a certain moment in time when this and that will happen. Throw that hourglass in a drawer somewhere - don't allow yourself to watch it. Don't allow your thoughts to question God or to wonder about anything. Believe that God is big enough to get through to you, no matter how thick headed you can be! God will never let us down! There's absolutely nothing flaky about our God. He will never disappoint us. His ways are the very best and He truly is working all things out for our good when we are committed to Him.
There's a song from my past and I don't know who wrote it or sang it, but the words are "I don't know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. I don't worry about the future, for I know who guides my way." Although the final chapter in your life has not been lived yet, live it with confidence that you already know how it turns out! If God can't be trusted, why do you serve Him? Trusting the Lord with 'time' - with our future - doesn't cost us anything. I think of it in terms of an investment that I'm willing to make in my future. If I have to sacrifice something in my life now, if I have to do without something I'd really like to have (children, a mate, open doors for ministry, etc.) but gladly place those desires in the Lord's hands as an investment, I know that I will get a huge return on my investment one day. The seeds I sow will reap an abundant harvest if I don't get into my fields and try to reap before the harvest time. My investment is growing and growing and will pay me large dividends!! Trusting in our Lord gives us perfect peace in every circumstance, and the passing of time becomes a sweet experience!