I had a mini revelation this last week about what it means to do things not in my own strength, but with God’s help and guidance. I’ve heard many Christianese sayings related to this idea: to rely on God’s strength and not our own, to wait on the Lord, etc. These have been very vague concepts for me that I’ve only grasped at and generally failed to hold on to for any length of time. However, the past couple of weeks I’ve felt brain-muddled, restless, derailed. Nothing really in my life has changed. There have been more snow days and sick days for my family, which throws off the schedule, but nothing to really explain my inability to focus on tasks or remember all I need to get done. I’m generally a pretty high-performer when it comes to checking things off my list and feeling prepared for my days. So I was just feeling a bit off and frustrated that it felt like I wasn’t pushing through my to do list very well.
Rewind about one month to January 2015. I desired greatly to have some sort of focus for the year – one word, one scripture, something – to guide me in my quiet times and show me the spots God wanted to work on in my character. Frustratingly, nothing was easily popping up. I had hoped for something by the end of the month, but February came up and I still didn’t have my “word”. I began looking over my journal writing and talking through some scripture passages with my life coach and finally an idea came through. First was the word abide, and then the picture of filling up my reservoir came to mind. I came across this picture in the writings of Alicia Britt Chole. In her booklet, “Ready, Set, Rest,” she quotes Bernard of Clairvauz who lived in the 1100s and wrote often on the love of God. Here is the section that began the work of this word picture:
The man who is wise…will see his life more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal pours out as it receives. The reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself..Today there are many in the Church who act like canals; the reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the love of those through whom the streams of heavenly teaching flow to us that they wish to pour it forth before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know hot how to govern themselves.
I saw much of my own behavior as being very like a canal – reading scripture or hearing a song and immediately wanting to pass it on to someone else without letting it actually do its work on my own heart. In January as I was looking for THE thing that would propel me forward in to God’s work for my life, I came across many verses about seeking only God, setting my heart on his ways, trusting Him in the process. So, at the beginning of February I decided to make my focus abiding and filling up my reservoir.
So fast forward back to the present. It hit me yesterday morning that this malaise, this “derailed” feeling was directly related to the status of my reservoir – I hadn’t been able to (or hadn’t taken the time to) adjust my schedule to focus on the abiding in God. So my aha moment yesterday was that when people are talking about doing things in God’s strength, they’re not saying that God literally comes down and moves their arms and legs and makes them do things. It’s the inner strength you have to behave in a Godly manner towards your family and to do the things God has called you to do. It’s strength you only get by abiding in Him, meditating on His promises, having deep within you the knowledge and faith that He is good and He has good plans for you. May it be a long time until I need this reminder again.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.