I am often in need of a reminder that I need to stop trying so hard. We, as people, are prone to strive after the things we want and need. We want a better car or house or TV or what-have-you and we work absurd hours in order to get the funds to purchase that thing we want. I’ve caught myself spending hours in the pursuit of things that I want, only to learn that I didn’t want what I thought I wanted.
Meanwhile, God brings this reminder: Stop. The footnotes to this verse say that Cease striving could also be rendered Let go. Relax. It sounds as if, in the modern vernacular, God is saying, “Chillax.” But God, wise God that He is, knows I cannot simply stop and do nothing. He knows that some part of me will be active no matter how still the rest of me may appear.
So He gives another bit of instruction. [K]now that I am God. To know; to really know that He is God is an active thing. I can give mental assent to His Godhood without much effort. He is God. Done. But life is going to lay siege to that knowledge; circumstance is going to call it into question. There will be times when I manage to obey instruction number one and stop, only to find that everything going on around me conspires to make me think that God has lost control; that God is, in fact, no God at all. That is when God’s instruction to know that I am God becomes active. I need to defend my knowledge. CS Lewis wrote, in Mere Christianity, about the difference between belief as giving assent to a truth and belief as holding that previous belief in the face of challenges to it. If I merely assent that God is God when it appears to be true, I’ll be that guy scripture warns me not to be — the one blown about by every wind of doctrine. On the other hand, if I hold to the truth that God is God, even — perhaps especially — when it appears least true, then I am joining with the Apostle Paul in casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Knowing is active.
What God says after instructing me to stop and to know that He is God seems not to follow. God says that He will be exalted among the nations … will be exalted in the earth. If I look at it in isolation, it seems odd. But, if I remember that Jesus told His disciples (that includes me) to let their light shine so that others would see and would glorify [our] Father Who is in Heaven. One of the multitude of reasons God may want me to stop trying so hard is that a light doesn’t try at all. It simply shines. The bulbs above my head right now are not doing anything. The bulbs are passive. In the case of the old bulbs with a filament, the electricity flowed into them and through the filament to generate light and heat. The light was a byproduct of the presence of electricity. Take that away and there was no light and no heat. Just a filament inside a sealed bulb. So, too, am I. If God is in whatever it is I’m doing then His presence will generate light. If it’s just me, then there is no light. Like the filament, I have no light to give.
What is it that God is instructing me to do? Stop. Stop trying so hard to accomplish anything at all for His kingdom. It’s His kingdom. He’ll handle it. Know that He is God. That knowledge will be assaulted. My job is to defend it. To seek out buttresses and bolsters for that knowledge. To make it secure against attack and to shore up the places where I find my knowledge of His Godhood lacking. The result is that He will be exalted. People will see what He does in me and will know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I am incapable of doing what has been done. They will know that God has done that thing in and through me. They will see His light.
God, please teach me the stillness You require of me and give me yet more reasons to know that You are God. I do not lack reasons, but I crave more. Until there is no room at all for doubt; until doubt flies in the face of rational thought, I will crave more.