“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” -Hebrews 4:11-13
At church, we’ve been studying the book of Exodus. Last week we reached the actual Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt- how God fulfilled his promise to save his people and brought them out of their slavery. Pastor Steve used it as an opportunity to not just talk about what God does promise and save us from, but all the things he does not promise us (that we often think he should and we’re entitled to).
- To Live Carefree
- No Temptation
- No Suffering
Whew. That’s a bit discouraging to read. Those are probably in the top ten things I want in life if I’m being honest. Of the four, the one that most convicted me was “to live carefree.” This is something I definitely feel entitled to. Because my life has mostly been carefree, I expect it to continue in that fashion. Therefore, whenever anything doesn’t go my way or is even a little bit hard I get royally pissed wondering why the world and God have turned on me.
But the more I’ve studied Exodus, the more I see that God’s way is often not the easiest. This week in my small group we studied the first chapter of Joshua. Even though the people were FINALLY entering the promised land (where they were supposed to be able to rest after 40 years in the wilderness and finally live their happily ever after), they were still expected to fight for it. They were still commanded to be strong and courageous because the path was not going to be easy and carefree. When the author of Hebrews talked about this and its parallel to our lives today he commanded “Strive to enter that rest.” Striving does not seem like a word that should be in the same sentence as rest if you ask me.
I think this un-promise stood out to me the most not only because it’s what I most want to be a promise, but also because God is calling me to strive in this area of my life. Because I have so many privileges and blessings in my life, I can easily live a carefree life unintentionally. My life right now is pretty carefree and I can continue in that fashion with little to no effort. If I’m experiencing this carefree life that God doesn’t promise, what does that mean for my reality and obedience to God?
I felt as if God was opening my eyes to the possibility that because he doesn’t promise a carefree life that perhaps he is calling me to step out of my comfort and privilege to a less carefree place.
Others have to remember the truth that God never promised a carefree life because they aren’t experiencing it, but maybe those of us who are experiencing a carefree life are being called to step out into a place less comfortable in order to love others better. And that act of obedience is how that un-promise is fulfilled and true in our lives.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds scary to me. Whenever I hear big scary challenges from God like this I slip into the temptation of wanting to obey God’s concepts rather than the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Here’s what I mean by that.
Jesus says in the Bible that we’re to love others. Instead of praying to the Holy Spirit and asking him how he wants me to love others, I instead think to myself how should I love people?
Then one of these two things happen.
- I think of big acts of love that seem scary and unattainable, like selling all my belongings to give to the poor or sharing the gospel with a person who I know hates Jesus and Christianity. And I let fear overwhelm me and do nothing.
- I make a list of all the ways I can love people and start to do it but quickly become worn out, lacking boundaries, and resenting those I’m supposed to love and the God who asked me to do.
The thing is, God didn’t ask me to do any of those things above. They lack life because they are not from him, they are from my legalistic strivings to remain in control and earn approval.
Instead, he’s asking me to surrender my control of how I obey his commands and trust that how he asks me to obey won’t be more than I can handle. Even better, the Holy Spirit knows my unique strengths, relationships, and positions and wants to use them for God’s purposes that he has full access to (unlike me).
What he asks is not only going to be possible, but it’s going to be more impactful and infused with his power. But perhaps most importantly, it’s going to bring us into a closer relationship because our obedience to God isn’t meant to be a test or drudge, it’s meant to be meaningful work we do in collaboration.
So although stepping out of my carefree life seems big and scary, all God’s asking me to do is to ask him what that first step is and trust that he’ll be there every step of the way.
Each month I try to record the little glimpses of joy infused in my life. Here are my glimpses from April:
- Spontaneous Movie Night! (feeling free from the need to be constantly productive and producing)
- Rediscovering my love for Dance, Dance Revolution
- Car conversations with my sister 🙂
- Truly trusting God with a big transition – knowing he can and will use it for good
- Being snowed in
- My car not being broken and the freeing feeling of the last day of work before a long vacation
- SONOMA- fully entering relaxation mode on our drive through the mountains and while sipping wine on a sunny villa patio
- Eating nitro ice cream after dark in a crowded city square
- Experiencing Cream for the first time
- Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge!
- Walking along the purple sand beach of the Pacific Ocean
- Seeing the filming crew from Big Little LIes
- Chilling in the car with snacks and a podcast (doing my thing) while Aaron did his thing (climb around Joshua Tree)
- The La Jolla Seals!
- Watching the sunset at Sunset Cliffs Beach
- Sleeping in and getting brunch- living the vacation life even when we’re back