Our spiritual condition is as changeable as our moods or the weather. So we need to plan in advance the way we will deal with our own changeableness and the random issues that come up to distract us.
Years ago I coined the phrase ‘Pre-solve by Resolve’, which points out that when we have settled a matter we have pre-solved all the uncertainty or potential distraction that would otherwise have come up.
I find myself having to stop and check why my mood or heart have moved away from a strong stand with the Lord. I am not always aware of the little distractions, or niggles that lure me away from a place of faith or peace. When I find myself anxious or distracted I realise I have strayed from a place of trusting God or resting in Him.
So here’s a way for you to regularly check how you are going in your daily life with God. Take stock of whether you are Wrangling or Resting.
If you feel you have to wrestle with issues, or you are agitated and frustrated, you are wrangling with things. Wrangling has a two-fold danger. It suggests you are not relying on the Lord and giving your troubles to Him, but it also suggests you are trying to deal with the problem in your own strength and your own wisdom.
Remember the fault of the children of Israel. They abandoned God, who is the fountain of living water, and dug out for themselves their own supply.
“My people committed two evils. They forsook me the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13
That brings a curse on people, for not trusting God, but trusting human resources.
“The Lord says, Cursed is the man which trusts in man, and relies on human effort, and whose heart departs from the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:5
So if you are wrangling you are not only missing God’s support and help, but you are likely bringing a curse on yourself. That curse might be seen as you constantly fail to solve the problem, digging yourself deeper into strife or debt, and finding that issues compound in your life.
You can stop wrangling with issues when you commit them to God and learn to rest in Him. Rest is a fruit of you trusting God. If you are sure everything is under control you can breathe easy. You don’t have to be tense, fearful or agitated.
Remember the blessing on God’s sheep, lying in green pastures, beside still waters, not afraid even in the valley of the shadow of death. (see Psalm 23)
That describes those who are at Rest, not Wrangling.
Resting is a great way to prove your faith. We are told that if we have faith there will be evidence for it. There will be things we do (works) that show we have faith. If we don’t have any evidence (works) then how can we prove we have faith?
“Faith without works is dead” James 2:20
“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith on its own.” James 2:24
Resting is a ‘work’ of faith. Wrangling is a ‘work’ of our self-reliance and failure to trust God. What ‘work’ is seen in your life?
Faith is your key to all the good things God has for you. You receive from God’s storehouse of Grace by putting your faith in Him.
“By grace you are saved, through faith” Ephesians 2:8
If you wrangle, and try to solve your own problems, you are not using faith, so you don’t get any of God’s grace to solve the problem. When you put your faith in God and trust Him, you open God’s storehouse of grace and the grace you need, the grace that will save you in that situation, is released to you.
So ‘Resting’ is really important as the ‘work’ of your faith. You come to a place of confidence that God is on your side and God can and will solve the problems for you. You commit your cares to God, and then Rest in Him. You do all the things He asks you to do, but not because of fear or trust in your own planning and strength, but in simple obedience to God.
I find the Wrangling or Resting test a quick way to check if I am in the right place to receive God’s blessings. I may find that I am tense and concerned. I stop to ask why I am feeling that way. There may be some challenge or workload hanging over my head. There may be some unresolved issue threatening to be a long-term challenge, or to get worse. Whatever the source of my unsettled feelings, such as fear, insecurity, feeling overwhelmed, or the like, I realise my need to place my faith in God. I realise that I am holding the problem instead of giving it to God.
“Cast all your cares onto him; because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7
If I am holding the problem I will have to wrangle, wriggle, struggle and strive. If God is holding the problem then everything is fine. All I need to do is follow God’s instructions and do what He asks of me, confident He will get me through.
Friends, you are already people of faith, having put your faith in Christ for eternal salvation. So continue to put your faith in Christ and to rely on God as your source and saviour. And as you journey forward keep check on whether you are Wrangling or Resting.