Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 22, 2005

Pushing Ahead vs. Drawing Near

Men just want to keep busy. They want to have their hands on things, manipulating, fixing, improving, making things work. In the spiritual realm no less than the physical, men want to have a job to do. They love Paul's talk of pressing on, of physical training, of fighting the good fight. They're quite comfortable with the idea of perseverance and discipline. They like markers, measurable progress, gold stars. Give them something to shoot for, to earn, and they're happy as pigs in mud. Back when I was venting my dissatisfaction with Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life, wherein Warren speaks of doing things on earth in order to get "promotions" in heaven, one friend of mine (who strongly disagreed with my negative assessment of PDL) said, "At least now I finally know there's something I can do!"

Oh how we yearn to earn! And it does seem such a relief to be told that, yes, if you work hard enough, great things will come your way. On the other hand, as Rob at Miscellanies on the Gospel makes clear (here and here), we can't work out anything that God has not first worked in. I am convinced that the great need today is not for still more activity, not that we "get it in gear," "hop to it," "look lively," or "push ahead," but that we draw near. Not that we run hard, but that we be still. What say you?

12 Comments:

Blogger Rob Wilkerson said...

Thanks Bob for the recommendations. The insights there came only after getting it wrong so very often. Why are we so hard-headed?

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Brian in Fresno said...

Amen! We need to rest in the arms of God, outside of Him we can do nothing, no matter how hard we try.

Good word Bob.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Phil (Col 1:27-28) said...

Good post. There is nothing more than drawing close and closer to him, who is our Lord, Savior, King and Elder Brother.

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

4:07 PM  
Blogger Broken Messenger said...

Bob,

I say amen. And to that end, we must not put any confidence in the flesh, we must look into our own hearts to seach for and bring before Christ those things we struggle with, and most importantly we must cast ourselves upon His grace and mercy for healing - a stern lesson, I am now learning.

11:23 AM  
Blogger pete porter said...

Bob,
I see this as a balance of fellowship and workmanship. Jesus with-drew even in times of great harvest to fellowship with the Father. Both are nessasary, faith without works is dead, and works without faith is just as dead.
Be Blessed,
Pete

11:48 AM  
Blogger frostykaiser said...

It is not that we have to work for the kingdom, it is that we get to. Like a son shadowing his father at work, we too want to be about the Father's business. Not for gain, but in companionship.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I like the way you put that, Frosty. It's just that it seems that for many it's all-too-hard to talk about the joy of serving the Father, but easy to give locker room "climb every mountain" pep talks instead. I'm fairly certain that our power to serve will be greatly enhanced by slowing down, drawing near, spending time with God, rather than amping up our dutiful busy-ness.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Juliana said...

Bob,
Good post and great reminder! I've been learning this lesson of 'resting' and 'trusting' and truly surrendering recently. This idea of manipulation and working, etc. can be carried over to so many realms of life--including relationships. After studying an Elisabeth Elliot book recently, I was really convicted about how mixed-up even Christian circles are in this regard. The man should wait on God to reveal the woman he should pursue. The woman should wait on God to prompt her man to pursue her. The manipulation on both sides should stop. Men should control their hunting instinct and not make every attractive woman their prey. Women should control their desire to manipulate and not illicit affection, intimacy, and romantic attention of every man who shows an ounce of interest.
Anyway, I know this is SLIGHTLY off topic, but it does relate to the question of 'pushing ahead' versus simply drawing near to the presence of God and resting in the power of the Spirit within us. Thanks!

9:08 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Yes, it does relate. This is a broad issue, applicable to so many walks of life. What proportion of our working, I wonder, even of our working for the Kingdom, is motivated by insecurity, guilt, or perhaps ambition, rather than the working out of what God has already worked in? Thanks for stopping by, Bonnie. You've added a valuable reminder!

9:17 AM  
Blogger Catez said...

"perseverance and discipline."

Well said. God is lonsuffering toward us and through us. Thanks for this post Bob.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I agree, Bob. Thanks for the reminder.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working...I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what e sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does." (John 5:17, 19-20). God initiates what we do--not us. We just have to join Him in what He is already doing.

11:46 AM  

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