Of course, I was spiritually mature enough to know that God was selling it. Or was I?
Really, I wasn’t. I had been a Christian a long time, most of my life, actually. I knew that “God helps those who help themselves” wasn’t in the Bible. But that farm girl in me still believed that if God did not move as I asked Him to, or as soon as I wanted Him too, then I should help Him along. And “help” Him, I did.
I believed that if God did not move as I asked Him to, or as soon as I wanted Him too, then I should help Him along.
As I hid curriculum, wiped peanut butter and crumbs from the counter, bleached the sink and left as few crayons as possible on display, prospective buyers came and went. The reality was that under all of the stuff, the house was absolutely a treasure. I knew that. So, I kept trying harder and harder to reposition things, remove things and scrub harder, to show this.
The ironic thing about the purchase of our home? It came during a now infamous autumn storm. The electricity was out, candles burned in each room, and the wood stove was heating the ancient kitchen. The laundry and dishes were not done because we had no water for days. Peanut butter and crumbs covered the counter because cooking was difficult without electricity and water. Crayons and notebooks were everywhere because the kids were bored and had no TV or electronics. Five kids seemed like twelve because they were everywhere, pillows on the floor, a trail of wet wood chips and puddles of melted snow making a path from our patio, over the mud-covered threshold and into our seemingly chaotic home.
God never asked me to do all that I did. I put most of it on myself.
And I had run myself ragged for nothing. In fact, the buyers said that they knew it was their house when they saw the cat door from the kitchen to the utility room. Literally, years of trying to prove that my house was a treasure, and the big attraction was the cat door? I still want to cry when I think of what I did to myself. Then I chuckle. I was foolish. I certainly learned my lesson. Or did I?
Literally, years of trying to prove that my house was a treasure, and the big attraction was the cat door?
Doing things in our own strength, “helping” God when He has not asked us to, is striving. Psalm 46:10 says,“Be still, and know that I am God.” Other versions word it differently; “Cease striving and know that I am God.” The Hebrew verb is rajah. The basic meaning is to drop, cease or abandon. In this verse, the context is a battle. Can you overdo fighting in a battle? Apparently.
The verse continues; “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Sometimes, God wants to do it, and He wants the glory. But He is also deeply concerned about us. He tells us to wait and trust in Him. He wants us to live in a state of peace, not stress and strife. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
God does not call us to chronic exhaustion.
The book of Isaiah repeats this admonition; "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” -Isaiah 30:15
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31
These are the words of a loving Father who wants us to know that He has everything covered. Sometimes, when we feel like we are running around, ready to drop, or are exhausting ourselves trying to do something perfectly, our Father is beckoning us to sit on His lap and rest;
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.'” -Psalm 91:1-2
If you are tired and weary, God gives you permission to rest. Don’t confuse rest with laziness. It takes faith to rest. When we put down our scrub brush because our knees are sore and our back aches, He is pleased that we go to Him for rest. We are saying, “Father, I trust you to do this, in your time, and in your way. I will wait on you.” Listen. Striving and peace are mutually exclusive. God may be calling you to rest.