Trust That He Is Working
God….works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
When you first begin waiting on God, it is with frequent intermission and failure. But do believe God is watching over you in love and secretly strengthening you in it. There are times when waiting appears like just losing time, but it is not so. Waiting, even in darkness, is unconscious advance, because it is God you have to do with, and He is working in you. God, who calls you to wait upon Him sees your feeble efforts and works it in you.
Your spiritual life is in no respect your own work. It is God’s Spirit who has begun the work in you of waiting upon God. He will enable you to wait continually. But our experience of His working is hindered by our unbelief. He, who by His Spirit teaches you to wait continually, will bring you also to experience how, as the Everlasting One, His work is never ceasing. In the love and the life and the work of God, there can be no break, no interruption.
Do not limit God in this by your thoughts of what may be expected. Fix your eyes upon this one truth: in His very nature, God, as the only Giver of life, cannot do anything other than work in His child every moment.
Place God first and say, “God works continually; every moment I may wait on Him continually.” Take time, until your being is filled with the vision of your God working continually, without one moment’s intermission. Your waiting continually will then come of itself. Full of trust and joy, the holy habit of the soul will be: “On thee do I wait all the day” (PsLm 25:5). The Holy Spirit will keep you ever waiting.
One of the great blessings is that of knowing the God is in us and with us and molding us into His image. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet paints this powerful picture as he goes to the potter’s house. There he observes the potter taking a lump of clay and placing it on the wheel and beginning to shape it. He notices that while it was in the potter’s hands it was marred. Watching with interest to see what the potter will do with this marred clay, he sees the potter bring it back to a lump of clay and begin to remold it.
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will make you hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and saw that he was working at the wheel. But the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled by the potter’s hand; so he made it over, reworking it and making it into another pot that seemed good to him.”
The King James translation says it this way: “He made it again another.”
From the moment of salvation, God is continually working in us. While it is true that we must cooperate in this work, as the clay in the potter’s hands, it is He that is performing the work. The clay just has to trust the potter. Jeremiah tells us that the potter makes the clay into the vessel that “seemed good to him”.
Often in this making of God, He removes from us our attachments to the world. He brings us out into a place that we have no other source other than Him. It is in this place of testing that He makes Himself known. God never removes something unless He is making room for a greater blessing. But first, He removes the old. This is where our anxiety and fear finds its expression. When God is moving us to the greater place of blessing that we cannot yet see and we are aware that the old, the comfortable place is vanishing from view, our challenge is to trust God until we see what He has prepared for us.
The story of the Exodus illustrates this well for us. God moves and Pharaoh’s heart is softened and the Israelites begin their journey. For us this is the moment of salvation. God moves, our heart responds and we begin our journey out of the world into the new and living way in Christ Jesus. For a time the Israelites were awed and excited. After a lifetime of being in bondage, at last they were free. We read that on this journey they were being led by the visible glory of God in the cloud and pillar of fire. They were experiencing this visible presence but their hearts were still in Egypt. We may wonder why their journey took so long and we may even wonder why ours is filled with trials and challenges. When they began this journey, all they knew of God was the historical accounts passed down by their ancestors. They had heard the stories of Abraham, Issac and Jacob but all they had known experientially was the slavery of Egypt. So it is with us. We may know the stories of the Bible or the stories of our ancestors but when we first come to Christ all we know experimentally is of the world. At every difficult place, instead of turning to and trusting God, the Israelites turned their faces back toward Egypt. Why? Because that was the familiar place. They could process things in those conditions but in this new place where God was taking them they had no reference point. Again this is us. When we first begin to walk with God we find ourselves defaulting to our old responses, especially in adversity.
But God is patient, so He first brought them through the Red Sea and destroyed the power of their former masters. In us God brings us through the blood of Christ and breaks the power of the devil and the world. After this great deliverance, the Israelites celebrated but it wasn’t long until they faced another challenge and again they turned their faces toward Egypt. They either forgot the great deliverance or they saw this new situation as beyond the scope of God’s power. So again we see ourselves. We celebrate that we are saved, which by the way is the most powerful miracle God does, and then when life challenges us we often default again to trust in our strength or worldly resources. With the Israelites, God provided the need of physical substance and again the Israelites were satisfied for a while and God drew them further into the wilderness and further from the old life of Egypt. They finally come to the place where they can’t go back but they see nothing in sight. In this place of testing, they respond to their situation with grumbling and rebellion and idolatry rather than turning their face and hope toward the God who delivered them, provided for them and was leading them. Every believer travels this journey of faith. God’s purpose is that we will learn to fully trust Him with all our hearts. This is not an easy endeavor for we find it easy to again and again remember, sometimes with longing, that old life and how easy it seemed, forgetting the bondage of it. God drew the Israelites so far away from any other source that they finally come to the place of choice. They were to choose to fully trust God or to trust in the idols of Egypt. We as the children of God are being brought to that same place of choosing.
How then shall we learn to trust God, especially in the darkness? We do so simply as the clay in Jeremiah’s lesson. We stay in the potter’s hands. In other words, we place ourselves, our needs, our burdens, our fears and anxieties into God’s hands. We choose to trust that wherever He is bringing us is a place of greater blessing and that everything that is falling away and no longer has a place in our lives is giving way to make room for greater blessing. I can tell you that it’s painful to let go of the old things to make room for the new. If you’ve ever done spring cleaning you hav a small glimpse of this pain. As you sort through life’s accumulation, you may recognize that there are things that are nothing more than clutter. They’ve been in a storage container for years and given no thought until you are faced with the decision of what to do with it. At that moment the idea of letting it go becomes an enormous problem. You know you need to but, ah, those sentimental thoughts. So it is in life as God moves us more and more to trust Him and less and less to depend on our comfort place.
I do not pretend to understand the ways of God nor to be able to fully comprehend what He is in the process of doing. But I do know He is calling us to Himself and is bringing us to learn to trust and wait on Him. I am learning that God is working in ways that I can’t at the moment see but I’ve walked with Him long enough to know that when He moves me or removes something from life, He has greater blessings in store. Psalm 23 says “…my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…..”
Dr. John Thompson