The Proactive Rest of Faith
Here's my new personal definition of faith: FAITH IS PROACTIVE REST IN GOD'S PROVISION.
As I meditate about Psalm 4 this morning for my devotions, I am struck by how deeply every single verse speaks to my life.
It encourages me to cry out to God in my anguish and struggle, but to know that God will answer (vv 1-3).
It challenges me to search my own heart, to do my part in serving the Lord and meeting needs, but to trust that God can and will do all that I cannot (vv 4-5).
It validates my personal struggle and heartfelt request for God's favor (v 6). And yet it encourages me with the truth that I as a believer have more privilege and blessing in Christ than people with all of the riches this world has to offer (v 7).
And at the end of the day, when I accept it, it can leave me with that peace that passes understanding, that only God can give (v 8, and Philippians 4:7).
I have settled on this new definition of faith specifically from the message of Psalm 4:5: "Offer right sacrifices, and trust in the LORD."
So part of faith means searching my own heart to make sure I am doing everything God would have me do, and listening for God to convict me of areas where I need to grow and change. And part of faith is resting in the knowledge that when I am being truly faithful and seeking God, God can and will take care of everything that I cannot. Faith is not faith without both aspects.
This remind's me of the story in Exodus 14 when the children of Israel are on their way to freedom from slavery in Egypt. As they approach the Red Sea, they hear the sounds of the Egyptian army, the most powerful army in the world, coming towards them.
To the human perception, their only to choices seem to be defeat (slavery or death, or worse) by the Egyptians, or death by drowning. But Moses encourages with with this message:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14).” Here again is that call to "Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)."
Ironically, on the very next verse, God says to Moses "Tell the Israelites to move on (Exodus 14:15b)." So has God just contradicted Moses? Was Moses inaccurate in his encouragement to the Israelites? Was God warning God's people to run from the imminent danger? Absolutely not!
God did all of the fighting, all of the providing in this scenario. God provided a barrier cloud between them that miraculously kept the Egyptians in the dark while Israelites had moved on. God parted the sea and dried the sea floor so that the Isrealites could move through the middle of the sea on dry land. God then remoistened the sea floor so that the Egyptian chariots would get stuck, and God closed the Red Sea over the entire Egyptian army while the Isrealites moved on past the sea towards their freedom.
The Isrealites only had one job here: to "move on" in the direction that God had called them to go. The reason that it could be a proactively restful walk was that God was doing all of the heavy lifting. It's not that they had no cause for excitement. It's not every day that God splits a sea for a person. But because God was the one fighting for them. they did not need fear or strive. I guarantee that those among the Israelites who accepted and believed this had a much more pleasant walk.
This is a challenge to my own heart today. I have always struggled to comply with the "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) aspect of my walk with God. I suppose I am a naturally fidgety person. But if I am to be completely honest, I must also admit that I also sometimes struggle with procrastination of things that I know are well and good for me to do (i.e. healthy eating, housework, making that call to a person God has placed upon my heart). And yet I know that in those times when I am faithful to seek, listen and obey the call of God upon my own life, and when I choose to stand on the promise of God's Word, the peace is right there.
This proactive rest that I call faith does not come from a lack of movement, but rather from the absence of striving (in my own strength to do what only God can do). To be still does not mean to keep the body from all movement; it means to stop trying to move on my own.