Strength in weakness. Power in relaxation. These concepts seem so antithetical–practically ludicrous.
Yet we find them writ large across the pages of the Bible. The gospel itself bleeds with these incongruities–God, Sovereign of heaven and earth, incarnate as a helpless babe, raised in poverty, crucified despite His innocence . . . crucified to rescue me. The powerful One sacrificed at the hands of powerless men so that they many be grafted in, that humans may have access to divine power (1 Peter 1; 2 cor. 4:7; Ephesians, John 15).
A martial arts class I’ve been taking has prompted meditation on the value of intentional weakness–call it “rest” or “relaxation.” It’s been fascinating to see the power of relaxation. My teacher frequently gives this illustration: Suppose you are attacked. Someone grabs your arm. If you tense up, they have a direct line to the rest of your body. They can move you about at will. Yet if you relax, your attacker retains possession of your arm and your arm alone. In fact, as my teacher likes to point out, the question becomes “who has whom?” Your attacker may have your arm, but in holding onto it, they themselves are tensed up and vulnerable to attack. You now possess a direct line to their core.
Spiritual warfare is similar. Isaiah 30:15 – “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation [to be free], in quietness [to calm] and trust if your strength[victory] but you would have none of it.” Victory is not found in striving, just as salvation is not by works. Jesus has won the battle already. Satan, his agents, and my own sinful nature are all defeated foes.
Victory is not found in thrashing around violently, like a cow caught in quicksand, nor in giving way to despair. Sometimes things just look like I’m trapped in quicksand. Life is hard and it’s not fair. These are the realities of living in a broken world.
However, appearances are deceiving. “Yet” and “haply” turn “bootless cries” into “hymns at heaven’s gate.” By God’s thought, reality is outwardly wasting away yet inwardly being renewed. Reality is that I have been grafted into God’s family and my loving Father works all things for my good.
Therefore, victory is found in relaxing and trusting God to win the victory. This is not to say it’s an easy task. Relaxing in the face of trouble is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do–every fiber of my being cries out for action of some sort, be it fight or flight. Nor am I called to laziness. I still have a responsibility to position myself for victory. God still calls me to faith.
God, give me the faith to believe You . . . to rest in Your character and in what You’ve already done and are going to do. Help me to be proactively inactive, yet to obey and do whatever You’ve called me to do in the power of Your Spirit. Don’t let me get away with “having none” of Your salvation and victory. Thank You, Jesus, for winning the victory for me!