April 22, 2014

When to Say it is Enough!

I found this picture online this morning as I was thinking about limitations and knowing when to say "it is enough!" I thought the philosophy behind the writing was crazy. I mean to know your limits but never stop trying to exceed them just seems really, really crazy to me!

I get it, really I do. I see the optimistic/new age believism in this photo. It is just that I also recognize that this is one of the greatest problems humans experience. I mean -- don't we exceed our limits on everything -- time, energy, commitments, credit, etc.? It seems that we don't know when our cup is full and overflowing, so we keep on pushing and pressing forward to get more. It is the "I can't have too much" syndrome and it part of our fallen nature and our postmodern culture.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said:

"What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." Eccl. 3: 10-14 NIV

King Solomon, a man who had access to everything a human could want or desire, reasoned that "everything is meaningless" (3:19). He writes,

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." (3:1)

God created us with a capacity to enjoy the good gifts of his creation -- however we were not created to live without boundaries. God gave us six days to work and one day to rest. There is a natural stopping point to our day and night and our work is to be contained as well. Moreover, our natural limits are bounded by age. The Bible tells us that the age of man has been reduced to less than 120 years (Gen 6:3). There is an end point to our living.

As I consider this photo, I cannot help but think that "striving after the wind" (Eccl. 1) is a useless endeavor. Our popular culture would say otherwise, but for me, I think the Bible has this one figured out. There is nothing wrong with good effort and toil, but at some point you have to say "it is enough" and rest. Oh to rest, what a glorious gift it is to rest.

To rest normally means "a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities." However, it also means:
  • peace of mind or spirit  
Rest comes from Old High German, "ruowa," which means to be calm. Calm denotes:
  • a quiet and peaceful state or condition
  • a peaceful mental or emotional state
Therefore, what resting means is to be calm, to have a quiet and peaceful mental and emotional state. I think it also means, to a greater extent, to cease from our labors -- all our labors. More so, "labors" is not just defined as the job (task, career, profession) we do, but ALL the work we do. 

Labor (noun):
a. Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting; work.
b. Something produced by work.

It is physical, mental, spiritual and emotional work. In God's view, ceasing from our work really means to TRUST Him for all our needs, to let go, and to accept what He has given to us as provision. It incorporates physical resting (restoration and recovery), mental resting (peace of mind), emotional resting (quiet and calm levels), and spiritual resting (trusting and believing -- e.g. faith).

The world tells us that we must toil, strive, and fight for what we want. We are not to give up, never give up, but keep on striving for whatever it is that will FILL us up. Perhaps it is a job promotion, a new house or car, a spouse, a child, or some other THING that we think will provide that missing happiness in our life. We toil and strive, some times without thinking about it, and we find that we never can rest. We cannot stop seeking, stop searching, and stop striving -- in the hope that we will find what we need. The Biblical truth is that God has given us everything we need in Jesus Christ. There is no reason to continue to search for what we need because God has already provided it to us.

"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3 NLT

Yes, I understand that this is not a blanket statement saying that all our material needs are met immediately (Phil 4:19). I know what it feels like to be poor. I know what it feels like to be lonely. I know the sorrow of a broken heart, and I know the sadness that comes with loss. I know the thoughts that run through the mind especially when we are faced with hardship, trial or significant difficulty:

"These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." Matt. 6:32 NLT 

Yet, the Lord does promise to meet our needs, abundantly and with sufficiency:

"And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others." 2 Cor. 9:8 NLT

The root of the issue comes down to one question: in whom do we trust?

Am I trusting in the Lord to provide for every need that I have? If yes, then I am to rest and know that He is faithful and He will provide. If no, then I need to consider my relationship with the Lord to determine why I am not trusting Him completely. The latter is easier to overcome than the former. In truth, if the answer is no, the solution is to spend more time getting to know the Father as Provider (Jehovah-Jireh), and to spend some quality time in the Word so that you can receive instruction to help you come into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Him.

If the issue is the former, a matter of trusting and resting in the Lord, let me encourage you this day to remember that there is power in the words you speak. If you speak words that go against the Word of God, then you are not speaking "life" into your situation (John 6:63). You must speak the Spirit's words and let them bring life and power into each need.

Speaking words filled with the Holy Spirit will empower you IN your circumstance. What this means is that you will find peace and contentment to remain where you are or you will find inspiration to move to where He wants you to be. I found this to be true in my own life. For many years, I lived in the shadow of doubt. I wanted so badly to believe that the Word of the Lord was true. But for me, I never experienced change that moved me in positive directions. I seemed to be stuck in the same rut. The world screamed at me to pick myself up and try again, and again. I followed the voices that said "you can do it, Carol," "don't give up, don't give in," and "keep on striving -- you will overcome through your will and determination." Yeah, well, I can tell you that I had little success and in the end all I experienced was a sense of weariness.

It took a long while, and a lot of heartache before I was able to recognize what the Lord was telling me to do. Once I did, and I let go of my own efforts, I found that His way brought sweet peace, a contented mind, and the ability to "see" His hand in every area of my life. Moreover, I became inspired by what I believed was His plan for my life. As I learned how to trust Him, I became dependent upon His Word for guidance, and I began to seek Him in every area of my life. I had to do a lot of letting go -- most of it was painful for me -- but the outcome was a CHANGE in my outlook, my attitude, and my actual circumstances.

My prayer today is for you, my blog reader (if anyone is really out there reading this blog, LOL!), is to come to that place where you can rest in His will for your life. I pray His grace upon you this day, and that you will find exactly what you are looking for in Him.

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