by Pastor Joe Pullen
During this time away from friends and (for many of us) our workplace, God has given us unique opportunities that I hope we all embrace, because such opportunity may not come around again in our lifetime. Specifically, He’s given us the opportunity to slow down and be with Him and those He’s given us.
In my life, perhaps yours too, slowing down comes with feelings of laziness; it almost feels wrong. I usually feel guilty whenever I lessen my pace. For too much of my life, I found my value in what I did, my job title or rank in the military, and the badge of working longer hours than most. I did it to cover my insecurities and the trauma of my past. My reward? Disconnection from God and others, mild depression, difficulty relaxing, and chronic insomnia. It’s not a lifestyle I’d recommend, and God has so much better for us.
In my training to become a counselor, I studied anxiety extensively. One of the manifestations of anxiety, especially in men, is speeding up – doing more, going faster, and trying to be on top of everything to gain an artificial sense of control. This is a natural, but not always beneficial, response to trauma – to try to protect ourselves from the uncertain by exerting control over all that we can. It seems to work temporarily, but eventually the body pays the bill through physical pain, emotional irritability, or difficulties with restlessness, sleep, appetite, guilt, or fluctuating energy levels. God so wants us to avoid this cycle of speeding up, feeling in control, crashing, and then depression when we realize we’re not in control of anything.
When Pastor Ben Korinek was interviewing for his current teaching pastor role at CTR, he was asked to lead the CTR staff in a devotional. He taught us on the scripture below, and it so impacted me that I journaled for weeks about everything that God showed me through that one verse about my busy life, and where I found my security:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
In quietness and trust is your strength,
But you would have none of it.”
ISAIAH 30:15, NIV
I love that God refers to Himself as the Sovereign Lord here. The sovereign is the one from whom all other power and authority is derived. God is reminding us that every created being gets their ability to exist and function from Him. Without Him, nothing exists or continues to function. And none of us can add to His sovereign control over the world or our lives. Anytime we speed up or add more to our plate, attempting to reshape our world the way we want it, we forget that it is God who has already provided all that we need.
Instead, God is reminding us that our salvation was obtained through repentance of sin and resting in the finished work of the cross where Christ gave forgiveness. But that isn’t the only saving work of the cross. Through the cross we are saved from striving to earn favor with Him or to earn good standing among other men. Through the cross we can rest, knowing that our present, future, and eternity are secure.
Jonathan Edwards said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin which made it necessary.” God is calling us to rest in that truth – to slow down and let it permeate how we see ourselves and the world around us. God is sovereign and He has given us all that we need for life and godliness. Let’s just accept that more deeply and watch as He does the rest.
God creates a quiet heart within us when we slow down, surrender control, and trust in His loving provision. We become stronger and more resilient when we know the all-powerful Sovereign is in full control, and it’s so much better than what our striving gets us.
To what degree do you find yourself speeding up these days? Wouldn’t our lives be much richer if we lived them at a more manageable pace, with less striving, with less worry and fear? Would you be willing to share in the comments what a step of repentance, rest, quietness or trust looks like for you?
Let’s keep growing together and showing the world around us how believers endure times of apparent uncertainty.