That is a verse that my son and I recently memorized together. Of all the verses we have been working on it has struck me the most. It grabs my attention because it is so contrary to what I tend to hear and even foster in my own life.
The verse sits in the context of a strong rebuke from God toward Israel. As is often the case in my own life, the people of God at that time had taken matters into their own hand, rebelled again and again and were looking for help from other people rather than from God. It is a picture of self-worship and self-sufficiency at its finest.
However, the life that God calls us into and shepherds us through is not one of self-reliance but one of total dependence, dependence on our loving Shepherd.
The words of this promise are refreshing. God would have me act in repentance but in a way that is infused with rest. It is a peaceful pursuit and one where I trust in him and not in myself. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…”
I could use more rest, quiet and trust in my life. Could you?
Unfortunately, my usual protocol looks like “I can do this”, “I can manage,” and “I can fix my problems by myself”. Or, the loudest one: “I just need to work harder.” And, while I must exercise responsibility for my life (even God speaks of the responsibility of repentance, of returning) there are two sides of that coin.
On one side I can work harder, push harder, believe harder and eventually fall on my face. Or, on the flip side, I can rest and trust, finding my strength in him. The former leads to exhaustion. The latter is my strength.
For instance, even a quick read of I Corinthians 13 is daunting and leads everyone to the conclusion of “that’s impossible.” I am not patient. I do envy. I do boast. I do fail. My response could be one of working harder. Or, I could experience God’s peace as I rest and trust in him, taking steps of faith and seeing God the Spirit work a heartbeat of genuine love in my life. This is something supernatural. It is a gift from God. It doesn’t mean I don’t work at all. But it does mean I work in a God-reliant way.
This struggle crosses all ages and both genders. It is not unique to one kind of person. However, it is a topic that connects to men in a unique way. Because of this, we intend to make this the focus of our Men’s Summit this year. How do I be a man, God’s man, do all the things God calls men to be but in a way that is founded on rest and trust, where true strength lies. This is what we are calling dependent masculinity.
I firmly believe that the weekend of September 29-30 is worth every man’s time and commitment. We won’t solve all of our problems. But I look forward to each of us taking God-honoring next steps of being men who experience God in life-shaping ways, restful ways.
I hope you join us. You can register at www.ksbc.net/ms17.