Striving vs. Abiding

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from some of the WLMVT social media, the blog and generally ‘striving’ so much to see this vision come to life because I had a little meltdown. As believers and kingdom builders, God fills us so much with a passion to see the pain, suffering and evil on earth disappear, and to see God’s kingdom truly established here ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ that there’s a constant burden in our spirit. This passion is so strong, so intense that it can quite frankly get overwhelming when we try to do things in our own strength. And so we go into overdrive, wanting to do and do and do some more, really trying to see the people around us finally come to the realisation of God and his sovereignty and its possible to just implode. The devil will use anything possible to attack our spirit.

From this moment of despair, from the tears and the sighs, God in His loving kindness, told me to be still. He said, ‘be still and know I am God’.  That same tranquil voice dropped Romans 8:22-26 in my heart. In a moment I’ll tell you all the things I learnt from that scripture but can I just say… how awesome, loving and kind is this God? Infinitely. Despite everything going on in the world, he cares so much for us and loves us unconditionally. He cared enough to calm me and reminded me of who He is. With Him on our side, whom shall we fear? And even in all our failings, His kingdom will come. So the vital question then is, how much are we trusting and ‘abiding’ in him, rather than striving to see things happen?

I’ll go into some of the things I’ve learned through this scripture and others, during this time of prayer and fasting. I hope you take away something from this, in whatever situation you’re dealing with.

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1)   ‘All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us, its within us. The spirit of God is arousing us within. We are also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance’ (Romans 8:22-25, MSG).
->Honestly, this passage to me is so potent, so apt. The world is in a depraved frenzy. And the problem is in all  of our hearts, something only Jesus can fix if we let him. The older we get the more we see how bad things are and its easy to lose all faith. But Paul the apostle says here that these are simply birth pangs, and we who love the Lord also feel it within our spirit. Something great is coming, and our individual transformations are evidence of this. So we should wait, not grieving, but with ‘joyful expectancy’. God’s glory will pour out upon us and one day, fill all the earth. His kingdom will come- and guess what? He is using those who live for Him to show his glory.

2)   ‘Waiting doesn’t diminish us, any more than it diminishes a pregnant mother – rather. We are enlarged in the waiting. […] But the longer we wait, the larger we become and the more joyful our expectancy’ (Romans 8:22-25, MSG).
->I think one thing that’s hard for me is patience. I’m someone who is ambitious and when I start something, I want to see it finished to perfection. But great things take time- and waiting, and gradual, deliberate steps. Especially when God is working- the ‘expectancy’ is joyful. The NIV version of v 24 says ‘but hope that is seen is no hope at all, who hopes for what they already have?’ That speaks for itself. And we know glory is to come, so it’s important to be patient and let God work things out in his time. It’s also important to let him build us and work on us- sometimes God is putting us through a refining process, to prepare us for what is to come.

3)   ‘Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in waiting, God’s spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter, He does our praying in and for us, making a prayer out of our wordless sighs, or our aching groans’ (Romans 8:26).
->Prayer. I cannot describe how many things God has convicted me about concerning prayer in the last couple of weeks. But what I can say is our relationship with God, our goals, our everything, are only as good as our prayer life is. Because in prayer, we are humbling our will to that of God’s – we are open to his direction. Abiding in God means focusing on Him and who He is, not ourselves and our worries. Prayer (and worship) allow us to do this. In prayer, we’re inviting Him to guide us, and really, you only know someone as much as you communicate with them- in this case, God. This communication includes studying His word because in many cases, that’s how he speaks to us. But this is the amazing thing – even when we don’t have the words and yet there is a burden in our spirit- the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Because he knows us better than we know ourselves! (v.27 MSG). Isn’t that amazing?!

4)   ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards watch in vain’ (Psalm 127:1).
-> This was my lesson in striving. Striving means working and working yourself to the bone without God’s help. And this is inextricably connected to prayer because the more we pray to God, the more we depend on Him. And so if we aren’t talking to or consulting God enough in the things we do, we’re only striving in our own strength. Sadly, that’s all in vain. So why dont’t we depend on the creator of the universe instead, by abiding in Him?! In my case, I learnt that there’s such a thin line between striving and abiding. You may think once you’ve prayed about something that’s it, but the communication with God needs to be constant so that we are guided and helped the whole way. I love how v.2 of Psalm 127(MSG) says, ‘don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?’ Peace is what we  have when we abide in him.

***I’ll do a follow up to this post later, in order to cover the other things I learnt adequately. In the mean time, do share your thoughts on ‘Striving vs Abiding’ by commenting below or using the hashtag #AbideInHim on twitter. Also, shout out to OreO and Sheyin for holding the fort on the blog and social media while I was off , what an awesome team 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!

@nuellaswords

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