This is a time of year that most people wonder why they are where they are, what they could have done differently, and what victories they feel comfortable celebrating over the last 365 days. Some people choose to make resolutions, some make promises, and some make peace with their past and try to survive. I have definitely been in all three places, sometimes just praying that I don’t fowl things up as badly as the year before, treading water and looking for land.
Perhaps you were raised with the same idea of struggle that I was: that you just make the attempt to power through and get the job done. I think I have finally realized that the personal pursuit of peace is awarded, rather than achieved, and it is sourced in the power and grace of God, not from my internal will to overpower the Devil on my own. I have always resolved to read more, pray more, study more, evangelize more, worship more. Is that right? Yes, yes, and yes. Why is it right? Not because I had now achieved spiritual awesomeness, but because I had put myself in the presence of God’s awesomeness.
Consider Moses’ ascent to the mountain to receive counsel from God. Whenever he returned to camp, he would veil his face because the people would not draw near him otherwise (Exodus 34:29-35). When he came back, people saw God’s awesomeness all over him, like the moon’s reflection of the sun’s light, we are a reflection of the Son’s light (Jn 1; I Jn 1).
The question is, when we desperately need answers, guidance, or counsel, who do we approach first? Our spouses? A mentor? A close friend? Same here: all three sometimes. What’s ironic is that the last counselor that I am accustomed to approach is God, the Father, who has the most power, visibility, and wisdom and whose will is pure and holy.
Something that he has revealed in 2013 and that has been affirmed in counsel with my wife and close friends is that sometimes, we need to rest, receive, and reflect before we react, respond, or reply. The difference is not necessarily in the time it takes for us to come back with an answer but the counsel we sought in the meantime. Give a fool a year to think on a problem, and he’ll spend the year convincing himself passionately that his original decision was the right one. There are many passionate performers in the world. Let’s think about proactive processing through the eyes of scripture:
1. Rest/Rely – lean on God, primarily, purposefully, and perfectly in your emotions and heart
2. Receive – learn from God in prayer, wait for His counsel, and be open to His response
3. Reflect – count the cost and consider the implications of His will being done
4. Rejoin – meet Him there in agreement
5. Recognize – know how you should perceive the stress, strain, or success
6. Recommend – praise God for His revelation
7. Resolve – make the decision to act according to God will
8. Respond – act specifically toward the situation in the way that will please God the most. Don’t react.
9. Relinquish – give to Him any remaining concerns and let Him take the weight
10. Rest – take peace and tranquility and do not act. This could even mean lying down!
Please don’t take this as a ten-step perfectly accurate depiction of every processing scenario. Sometimes, I rest on Him, and then I realize that He has already given the answer, so I praise Him and move forward, but the key is REST ON HIM. I prefer that focus because it doesn’t try to say “Do all this stuff and you’ll never be stressed.” God knows just what we need.
Question for you: How do you process life events, deep questions, losses, opportunities, wounds, ailments, stresses, pet peeves, successes, joys, blessings, and triumphs? Bringing God our thanks is just as significant as bringing him our complaints. I was told by my Bible class teacher that we should thank God twice as much as we ask of Him, and if we expect Him to do what we ask, we ought to do what He asks of us. Of course the ratio wasn’t the significant part, but the motives behind our communion with God are exceedingly important to Him because he values our hearts.