Being Still vs. My Will
Do you ever feel that life is just a fight and you’ve got get what you can, while you can, no matter what? I guess that’s describing survival of the fittest, but that’s what I’ve always thought life was like. If I saw an opportunity, either personally or with business, I went after it hard because, “He who hesitates is lost,” and we need to, “take life by the horns.” For me, this meant a life of urgency, 80 hour work weeks, and constantly being in motion, working on something. Never rest because, “time waits for no man.” Wow, we actually have a lot of sayings encouraging us to stay busy.
How do we explain where the Bible tells us to wait for God? Psalm 27:14 tells us to, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Again in Lamentations 3:26, “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Isaiah 8:17 tell us , “And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him.” In fact, there’s a lot of Scripture about waiting for God. What about this one, in Exodus, when the Israelites are against the Red Sea, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:!4) All this really surprised me when I started getting into the Bible, because I was a real “go-getter,” and that meant never waiting and certainly never being still. “You snooze, you lose,” if you sit around waiting and being still, right?
Could this whole philosophy the world has about ambition be simply rooted in a deep distrust of God’s ability to provide? In Matthew 6, verses 25 through 34, Jesus talks about our needs and not worrying. “Is life not more than food and the body more than clothes?” (Verse 25) He asks us to consider how our Heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air, though they don’t store anything away in barns. He tells us that God clothes the fields and He’ll certainly do even more for us. In verse 33, our Lord really drives the point home when He says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
To me, Jesus obviously understands our fixation on these daily necessities. However, He’s also challenging us to not make these things our focus. “Life is more,” He says. Jesus realizes it’s our natural tendency to focus completely on our daily survival, but we’re not supposed to do that. If we survive, without God, what good was survival? Jesus, after fasting for 40 days, refused to turn stones into bread because “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Survival without God isn’t survival at all. Our Savior knew that bread would be worthless if it didn’t come from His Father. Awesome.
Did you catch that last part of verse 33, where it says, “these things will be given to you as well?’ Given. We get these items by seeking His kingdom and righteousness. Given! We don’t have to pillage and plunder through life for food, clothing, and all other things. It shocks me that all these things we’re so accustomed to fighting tooth and nail for, are to be given by the Father. Is that what is meant by being still and waiting on the Lord?
I’m an extremely simple person and I believe God knows that. When I was struggling with this concept, He gave me this illustration to help me understand. Imagine a majestic palace where a very generous King lives. People are always coming to Him, asking for things – wants and needs – and he supplies generously. In return, the King asks for service and loyalty. In order to supply his subjects with the best things, the King may take awhile to grant his requests, but he always over delivers. However, many people don’t want to serve the king, be loyal, or wait for anything. They want something now with no strings attached. That’s why, every night, all through the night, you can find people behind the palace, in a dark alleyway, dumpster diving through the King’s trash. These impatient people find only things that weren’t good enough for the King’s people, but they foolishly believe they’ve found something of value. Every dawn, you can see the same silly people, again and again, leaving the King’s grounds, garbage bags in hand, unaware they spent a night of hard labor to claim worthless trash.
For my whole life, I dug through the dumpsters behind God’s kingdom. I wasn’t willing to wait for Him and I certainly wasn’t going to serve Him. I wanted whatever I could get my little hands on. True to my little illustration, it was all worthless garbage that I don’t even have anymore. I didn’t trust in the Lord for a career, therefore I started a string of business ventures that all failed. I didn’t ask God to bring me a wife, so I went and found my own; that union is now ending in divorce. I thought I was building a life, my way, with my own hands, but I was really piling up a stack of rubbish that wouldn’t hold up against any challenges; that explains why I had to return often to rummage through the trash. It’s hard to make that statement, because I worked very hard for that pile of rubbish, but that’s not what we’re instructed to do.
A life full of things gotten without God’s help or blessing is really sad, trust me. It’s not that I didn’t have nice things, I did, but I didn’t have any peace and comfort from them. I always worried someone would take my things away. For over 10 years, I lived in the daily fear that my business would be taken from me if I made a couple mistakes. I even lived through 4 years of marriage, afraid that if I took my hand off the wheel for even a moment, everything would fall apart. Both those fears turned out to be completely well founded – both worst case scenarios happened.
Jesus tells us plainly in Matthew 7: 24-27 to build our house on the rock, which is His word. Building your house on anything else is like building on a foundation of sand. My life was built upon the idea of, “I make my own luck,” and “It’s my life.” These were foundations of sand, because, I’m only made of dust myself. Think about it, really. How confident are we that we can hold onto anything? We can’t fight against the stock market. We can’t against our company downsizing. We can’t even fight against a spouse who doesn’t want to be your spouse any longer. We’re so helpless if you think about it. That’s not a bad thing though! God wants us to come to Him, for even the little stuff, and then the bigger stuff too. If we rely on Him for food and clothing, then we’ll seek Him for a job, a wife, everything. We’ll obtain those things His way, in His time.
Going forward, I want to look around at my life and know everything was placed there by God, not me. I can choose my own career, but how certain am I that it was perfect for me? I can find a woman to marry, but is she right for me? God knows these things; He knows everything. However, there’s no way I can get that kind of certainty if I continue to push and strive, against God’s will. I have to wait upon the Lord. I have to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)