A long time ago, I learned that there are no coincidences, not even with songs lyrics that are stuck in my head. I am not very good at memorizing scripture verses, but song lyrics stick like glue. Many of the verses from worship and praise music come directly from the Word, and the Spirit uses them to give me insight and encouragement.
The most recent message He delivered through song lyrics came to me in my morning quiet time. Amidst my journaling about the recent death of a loved one, I heard the chorus from Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns stream through my head.
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of Heaven and Earth
As I wrote about the work involved in caring for someone on their deathbed, I got to see how God’s grace has operated in my life and healed me of some perfectionism. Traditionally, if I have a hurting loved one, then I will try to tend to all their needs in my own effort and self-will. Eventually, I pour out so much of myself doing things for my family and friends that I have nothing left to do the things I need to for myself. This is when the Spirit softly reminds me of the following.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
If I choose to pause and listen to this soft warning, then I can avoid the trap of the enemy. I can avoid the temptation of people pleasing and remember that I don’t get clean through the approval of others or my own efforts. God is who empowers me to act in a way that is good.
On the other hand, If I choose to push forward and stand on the shaky foundation of people pleasing, then I will end up depleted and spiritually dry. I have been in this humbled position more times that I would like to count. When I get there, the Spirit shows me that my “service to others” is really a self-serving form of idol worship. If the opinions and approval of others are more important to me than God’s, then they have become idols. The only One that can satisfy my craving for love and acceptance is my maker, THE maker of heaven and Earth.
Grace helps me see the experience of spiritual depletion as a gift. For when I am emptied out of self, then this creates more room for the Spirit to dwell in me. And in the tension between the pause and push, God is able to perform some of His best work. In this space, I can surrender to love and be lead by the spirit to rest. In that moment where I choose to savor the pause, I hear the Spirit speak.
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
This Scripture is a gentle calling, a pull, toward rest. It makes it easier to surrender when I remember that rest is part of the Lord’s original design “on the seventh day He rested.” To be my best self and love others better, I must surrender to it. With that, I bid you goodnight.