I’ve been reading a most remarkable book that has taken me by surprise. “Stepping Heavenword” by Elizabeth Prentiss. It was written in the 1800’s, but the character’s struggles are so relevant to my own today.
Early in the book, the main character Katy shares her deepest struggles with her Pastor, “If you only knew what a dreadful creature I am. I am angry with myself, and angry with everybody, and angry with God. I can’t be good two minutes at a time. I do everything I do not want to do, and do nothing I try and pray to do. Everybody plagues me and tempts me. And God does not answer any of my prayers, and I am just desperate.”
Her Pastor answers, “All you say may be true, But God loves you. He loves you.”
She responds, “He loves me. If I could believe that. If I could believe that after all the promises I have broken, all the foolish, wrong things I have done and shall always be doing, God perhaps still loves me.”
“You may be sure of it”, he says, “Go home and say over and over to yourself, I am a wayward foolish child. But He loves me. I have lost faith in some of my dearest friends and am very desolate. But He loves me. I do not love Him. I am even angry with Him. But He loves me.”
I knelt to pray and all my childish wicked life came and stared me in the face. I looked at it and said with tears of joy, but He loves me. Never in my life did I feel so rested, so quieted, so sorrowful and yet so satisfied.
Wow! Does it stir you like it did me? Do you work so hard to please Him, to earn His favor? When you fail, (and you will), do you feel as though He is hugely disappointed and can never truly love you?
I know I struggle with the same strivings and failings as you do. Usually I flog myself for awhile and then He lifts up my downturned chin and assures me that He loves me. It’s the same stupid pattern, yet I replay it.
And then there is the temptation to appear as if I have it all together. I don’t dare show that I’m weak and broken. So I work hard to impress you. And what is ironic about it, is that you struggle in the same way. Yet, we work hard to maintain the “perfect” status.
Do you see any rest in all of this striving? No I don’t either. All of our strivings, workings and positioning accomplish nothing and leave us lifeless and barren.
Truthfully the work has already been done. Jesus finished it once and for all by His work on the cross. I read something recently about rest that stirred my spirit.
When God finished His great creation work, He said it was good and He rested. To paraphrase, He said, “It’s done. I’ve finished the work. Now my creation can rest in my work, i.e. my beautiful world I made. I’ve given them everything they need and more importantly they have perfect fellowship with Me.”
Not only was it finished, but it was very good.
When Jesus said “it is finished” on the cross, the work for our salvation and deliverance was done. And oh, it is so good!
We look at His work, what has been given to us: The robe of righteousness, so perfect and flawless. Like the coat of many colors made for the favored son Joseph. We are His favored sons and daughters. It is so very good.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us”. He remembers it no more. Oh “Let the redeemed say so!”
I have peace with God. I am free from condemnation, guilt and shame. He has accomplished this great work. Let us rest in this great work.
I am beloved of the Father, adopted, an heir of the promises of God. preserved by His grace. Oh, let us rest in His finished work!
I am rejoicing now as I’m writing this. Oh it just stirs my spirit. And I beseech you to let it get into your spirit.
“You have this hope as an anchor for your soul”. You can settle in His finished work. The Word is your resting place. You are secure. Nothing or no one can snatch you out of His hand. It doesn’t matter what your past was.
Are you ready beloved, to finally rest?