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FINDING HIS PROMISE
“The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped—it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange
and unfamiliar territory.”
- Eugene H. Peterson, The Jesus Way
I’m on a journey, and I want to take you with me. I want to live in God’s rest and in light of what I truly believe—that this world is not my home. I want to fix my eyes on Jesus. I want to pray without ceasing. I want to walk away from the mirror of the Word and remember what I look like for more than a moment or two. In short, I want to be a doer, not just a hearer. I want to live in the freedom Christ offers.
When’s the last time you felt unencumbered by the things of this world? Most of us probably have a tough time answering that. There’s too much wrestling for our attention and shifting our eyes off of God, but asking the question still gives me hope, because I know God’s promise for us:
“Come to me, and I will give you rest,” he says.
“Be anxious for nothing.”
So, what keeps me in chains, and how do I get out of them? I’m going to explore many of the things that keep us from trusting God when things are difficult. I want to do this not because I’ve mastered the art, but because I know the study will drive me deeper into his word where the lessons and truths will establish themselves in my heart.
Like the Israelites, God’s salvation took me out of slavery, and I was grateful. But he’s also led me into the desert, and turns out I don’t always like the desert. It’s uncomfortable and boring and hard. I don’t understand it, and I never feel settled. I’m starting to wonder where we’re even going. I’m grumbling. I want comfort. I want pleasure and ease and accolades and security and control, and the desert gives little opportunity for such things. The only thing to rely on in the desert is HIM, and I’m too often not content to depend on his daily sustenance and bask in his presence.
Ouch. It hurts my heart to say those words, because deep down, I know God is worth it. I know what he has for me—what he has for all who are heavy laden—is good. It’s rest. It’s peace. It’s love and freedom, and he’s taking me to the Promised Land. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Receiving his rest is also about giving up myself. I can’t follow him to the Promised Land (or anywhere else) if I’m still hanging on to my own agenda. And ultimately, hanging on to my agenda is a lack of trust. It means I don’t believe he knows what he’s doing or that he’s capable of doing it or that he really wants what’s best for me.
Wasn’t that the crime of the Israelites? A simple lack of faith that he was taking them where he said he would? A weariness with the monotony and wandering with no time frame, no understanding of his plan, and a waning hope in what was promised?
When I was young, I used to judge the Israelites for their lack of faith. How could they doubt him when they’d seen all the miracles he did in Egypt and throughout their own history?
Time tempered my arrogance as my own grumblings appeared. The temptation to follow my own path—one that makes sense and feels good—looms constantly in my mind, pounding my faith like a battering ram.
The only way to walk in the desert with joy is to trust him, and the only way to trust him is to know him. But if we’re in the desert without all of the things we think we want, what’s the point? Why keep doing it? And what is this rest he offers? Can we get past all the obstacles to experience it?
Let’s find out. Let’s dig into the things that hold us back from trusting him, and let’s overcome.