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A Godly Restlessness
“Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted” (Psalm 55:2). Charles Stanley wrote, “If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will.” This statement has been an encouragement to me over the years as I have sought to know and do God’s will. This is because in my fallen human condition I am not always able to immediately discern God’s will in a given situation. What a joy it is to know that God will do whatever it takes to reveal His will to those who really want to know and do it.
There is another method I believe God sometimes uses to keep us on track—a restless spirit. This idea may seem contradictory to the promise of peace to those who are in God’s will. There is no contradiction. Sometimes God will stir up a restlessness in our spirit in order to cause us to seek after Him in earnest prayer. I find myself in such a situation even as I pen this article. I am thankful to know that a restless spirit is not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure but an indication He is up to something.
I am in the process of transitioning from Active Duty back to the civilian world. For more than ten years I have served alongside and ministered to Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and the Coast Guard. I never imagined I would be transitioning at this point in my life but obviously God has other plans. Like anyone in such a situation I have been sending out resumes and job applications. I am fond of saying I have spread my net far and wide and now I am waiting for the right fish to jump in it at the right time.
Lately, however, I have begun to feel restless in my spirit. I believe this to be a godly restlessness—an indication God is about to reveal to me His will concerning the next chapter in my life. I believe it is also probable that in my net casting I have not necessarily considered all the possibilities and perhaps God is about to lead in a much different direction than what I have been willing to consider. I have been praying God would show His will to my wife and me. I believe, as the Psalmist, “God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:19).
When we find ourselves with a godly restlessness, what ought we to do to insure we are ready to hear from God? First of all, I believe we must surrender to His will. In other words, I must be bound to do God’s will. The measure of such a life is one of faith. The author of Hebrews wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (11:6). Knowing all the details beforehand, therefore, is irrelevant. Believing God, however, is relevant. I must believe God’s will is best and that He has my good and His glory in mind.
Secondly, having bound myself to doing God’s will, I must be determined to finish well. In so doing, I must understand and accept the fact that God will often use difficulty and suffering to accomplish His plan and purpose in my life. It would have been wonderful if the writer of Hebrews, in chapter 11, had stopped penning that great chapter in the first half of verse 35. He writes, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions…put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection” (11:32-35a).
Yes, that would have been wonderful but he does not stop there. He continues, “and others were tortured, not accepting their release…and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword…men of whom the world was not worthy” (11:35b-38). Suffering is God’s prerogative and is to be expected. Dropping out is not an option, as the author notes: “And all these, having gained approval through their faith…” (11:39a).
Finally, if I am going to insure I am ready to hear from and obey God during times of restlessness I must understand and believe it will be worth it all. I oftentimes remind myself it will be worth it all after all—in other words, the difficulty and suffering here will have been worth it all when I see Jesus face-to-face. I must, therefore, finish the race while keeping my eyes firmly planted on Jesus knowing that unimaginable joy awaits me there for my obedience here. The author of Hebrews encourages us to, “Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3). Jesus obeyed God because of the joy that awaited Him. We, too, obey God because of the joy that awaits us.
In his first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, Paul wrote, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (5:16-18). Remember, discovering God’s will is not a complicated process. If the ongoing practice of my life is one of ceaseless prayer accompanied by rejoicing and thanksgiving and my heart is being transformed by the renewing of my mind through God’s Word (see Romans 12:1-2), God will reveal His will to me at the proper time. Many times, the proper time is preceded by a restless spirit—a godly restlessness.
So, as you prayerfully seek to know God’s will for your life in any given circumstance, remember, come through Christ, separated from all known sin. Believe God! Make sure you are praying in God’s will. If you are not sure just keep doing the same thing God told you to do until He tells you to do something else, and be persistent in your praying. In other words, do not give up simply because you believe God should have already answered. Also, do not allow yourself to become distracted wondering if your prayers are not being prayed just right. Romans chapter 8 reminds us the Holy Spirit fixes our prayers on the way up to the God the Father.
Are you experiencing a restlessness in your spirit? Are you determined to know and do God’s will? Rest assured, as Charles Stanley writes, “If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will.” Remember the promises of Holy Scripture. Obey God not matter what, and you too, will be a person, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38a).
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