One of the things that breaks my heart as we work with believers is to see them living in frustration, anxiety and even resignation in connection with knowing and serving their indwelling Lord. People shrink back from stepping out in their gifts, or they just can’t get over their own perceived inadequacies, or still feel as if God is far away and only present as some sort of token that ensures their passage into heaven at death. How far this is from the life Christ died to give us! While we have all experienced moments like this (and surely shall again), we are not meant to live there. Being stuck in this place usually comes from ignorance or unbelief about how God’s Spirit works in us.
God characterizes our life with him as “entering rest.” Put that on your refrigerator, my fellow pilgrims. That is the goal — not to strive, not to be perfect, but to live at rest in the shadow of his wings. Okay, now you’re asking (and rightly so), “What does that flowery poetic language really look like in real life?” As I learned and later taught in the series “Entering God’s Rest,” God’s promised rest is expressed to and through us in various ways, but the one that pertains to this discussion is learning to walk in the energy and enabling of the Spirit.
If you have received the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit, here is what you can expect, according to Peter:
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:2-3, NIV.
It begins with GRACE. Grace is not merely “God’s unmerited favor.” Grace is God’s ability to do what we cannot do on our own. This is is what Paul refers to next when he speaks of God’s divine power as “everything we need for life and godliness…” I think perhaps the word “power” has the effect of overshooting our everyday lives; in other words, we expect “power” for the big stuff, but not for the everyday ability needed to walk with and know God. Paul spoke of this ability in another way when he said in Philippians 2:13:
“For it is God who is at work in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
The word translated here as “at work” is energeo — God’s energy! In the Greek this word is defined as “to be active and efficient in.” The Message translates it wonderfully:
“That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”
The Holy Spirit’s presence in you means you’re not on your own. When you want to step out in obedience to some nudge from the Lord, don’t shrink back in fear that it is all up to you. Simply believe in His presence and His willingness to give you his ability to do what you desire. What God calls for, he empowers. We usually don’t feel that enabling until we take a step into it, but once we do, it comes, faithfully. And the funny thing is, it won’t feel “supernatural,” it will feel natural — like it is you doing it; only you know better.
I have experienced this enabling in matters large and small, from praying for a miracle of healing to having a wise answer to a tough question to knowing how to order your day for productivity and joy. In fact, a friend just called and said, “I entered God’s rest yesterday when I met a young woman I needed to counsel, and didn’t have a clue what direction to take, and after I prayed, a simple question came clearly to my mind. When I asked her the question, everything else unfolded between us.” That is what the energy and enabling of the Spirit looks like in daily life.
The Holy Spirit is a gentle, quiet presence in you, but don’t underestimate his power, his energy waiting for you when you want to step towards God or step out for God. This applies to seeking God in private as much (or perhaps even more than) public works.Weariness, anxiety and frustration are signs that you are probably not leaning into the grace (the real ability to do that thing) of God. The energy and enabling of the Spirit is crucial if we are to enter God’s rest. More on rest soon, fellow pilgrims.