I know people who are naturally very giving. My sister, Kim, is one of them. She has one of the most generous and giving hearts I know. Just like her Father. But, unlike God, as much as givers love to give, their ability to live out of that heart is limited. Only God gives what cannot be received from anyone else.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Our greatest strength is nothing compared to what comes from the power of God. Oh that we would finally drop our fists, bend our knees and confess our weakness! The world has taught generations of people that weakness is a flaw, something to be overcome, and if not overcome then at least hidden. In this world, the weak are picked on, maligned and held in contempt. Those that do so do not know the ways of God. They are unaware that He protects, defends, rescues and takes up the cause of the weak. And He strengthens them with His power. If I am facing a battle, who do I want on my side? A man who lives life in the weakness of his own strength, or the weak man who walks in the strength of His God?
“The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
The word “rest” in Exodus was used to describe the “quiet possession of the promised land” that God gave to the Israelites after conquering the inhabitants of the land. We have spiritual land that we must battle to take, in our homes and families, in our churches, and in our communities. We will not take that land and come into the “rest” of possession unless God goes with us. His presence will give us rest…the quiet possession of land once inhabited by the enemy. Have I been fighting for land all on my own? Have I asked the Lord for His presence in my life and in my battle? Have I, like Moses, determined that I will not go unless He goes with me?
In Matthew, Jesus bids them to come to Him for rest from the yoke of the law. Religion will keep us striving and working to “be good enough” for God. It is a yoke of fear, because deep down, we know ourselves all too well. We try really hard to do all the right things and be good people, and then we mess up. That leads to more striving to try to make up for what we’ve done, trying to gain God’s favor or at least His tolerance again. Religion is a heavy yoke indeed, and leaves people weary to the bone. Jesus offers the relationship of grace that finally brings us to the rest that He alone can give. How do I live in this relationship of grace? Has my soul found rest here, or is it still trying to be good enough for God?
“…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
No big bang. We didn’t evolve from some lesser life form into what we are today. It’s very simple. Our life originated from the breath of God. I continue to live and breathe on this earth because He makes it so. No one can give life apart from Him. When I find myself despairing of life, I do well to remember it is God’s gift to me. What will I do with this breath from God?
And how do I respond to the promise of eternal life that is given through my faith in Christ? Does that promise pale in the light of all of my earthly problems? Is it tucked away somewhere in the recesses of my mind, only remembered during communion Sunday? Has this amazing, unfathomable gift become, God forbid, common? Or is it the source of my joy and my patience in affliction? Has heaven become home for my heart while I run this earthly race? Does the promise of life evermore, with God, eclipse anything and everything that this earth has to offer?
My heart doesn’t always like it when these questions come, but it continues to beat out the answers, good or bad, right or wrong. It beats now, and will beat forever in one form or another, only because God and God alone gives life.
Strength, rest, life, peace, wisdom, revelation, provision, knowledge, His Spirit, spiritual gifts, the Kingdom…and on and on. There is no giver like God, and no one else can give us what He gives. No matter what we offer up to others, even if we give everything we have, we will never be able to out-give our God.