The restlessness of the heart is a two-sided creature. The one is a catalyst, spurring us towards more adventure and accomplishments. The second is a tether, urging us towards more stability and safety. The one beckons us to look beyond ourselves towards discovery and stretched wings. The second urges us to look inward towards self-discipline and security. The one encourages us to jump, sometimes carelessly. The second side urges us to stay put, sometimes cautiously.
The two sides are essential to our humanity. Embedded in each of us is this restlessness that there is more beyond us that we must experience and yet there is more within us that we must value. The embrace of this two-sided restlessness is essential to the pursuit and acceptance of our identity and purpose as humans.
In the wrong proportions for the wrong circumstances, the two sides can create anxiety. Too much reliance upon the one will create incredible impatience in our heart. An overuse of the second will perpetuate a pattern of fearful introversion and missed opportunities. Many of us jump in angst, led by the one without consulting the
second. Many of us sit in fear, led by the second while neglecting the
Somehow, we need to exercise the wisdom of both. But out lives are often lived in segregation. We live divided lives. We disrupt our hearts constantly through stress and fear and worry and frustration. Rare is the person who has figured out how to live peacefully with the restlessness of their heart.
I think that Colossians 3:15 holds the key. We are encouraged by Paul, a man who knew the torment of lopsided restlessness, to "let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts."
Only Jesus, I believe, can bridle the restlessness into the action and depth we were created to know. We are remarkable creations… but we are broken and sliced apart by our sin. Only Christ can heal and restore a wholeness to our identity. Restlessness is part of our created humanity. We are restless for God… we are restless for his righteousness… we are restless for the life we are meant to celebrate and embrace. And only Jesus can harness our restlessness into joy. Jesus "holds all creation together" (Col 1:17).
I pray that we may be strengthened with his glorious power so that we will have all the patience and endurance we need. May we be filled with joy, always thanking God.
There is an inwardness and an outwardness to our faith (Col 3:16-17). Both come from the restlessness in our heart. Both must be pursued and protected. Both sides must be matured and developed. Both must be held by Jesus… exercised and disciplined and empowered by his hands.
Added to this… if a church body were able to swim in the tension, we’d probably discover a passion and wisdom for pursuing God’s agenda… ?
Great question, Andrew… I think a local church, as well as the Church as a whole, should probably feel the tension of the “already/not-yet” reality of a life with Christ. As individuals and as a corporeal body, there is an inherent tension to having the confidence of being reborn in faith, and yet still working out our salvation “with fear and trembling”. To this is added our raw personalities and tendencies towards risk or security… and wow we have an explosive recipe.
If the individual, and if the church, can harness the tension to be utilized by God, the power-for-good-potential is tremendous. If not, then the destructive-potential is equally great.
I hear ya Dan. Partially my fault I think! : )
So, I have a question… If this is a tension you believe that we are all to live with, is it a tension that the entire church should be experiencing, I mean as a body, or should it be something that everyone feels individually and that will be sufficient for the growth Jesus is looking for? To a certain extent, I think that it might be the latter, but I fully believe that it must be the former, which means that the latter is not necessarily going to be present. However, I am posing the question for you, and would like to hear your thoughts…
PS- welcome back Ken!
I am living what you are writing, that tension…
Thanks for the note, Karl. I’m glad it resonates with you. Thanks for expanding on this for me!
Ah yes, I agree completely!
oh and Gary Larson is the most brilliant comic writer ever, IMHO :p
Excellent post Ken! This is something I have wrestled with often over the past year. The greatest problem I have encountered was trying to reign in emotions associated with inwards and outwards faith. If you let your emotions run wild, you become stuck on one side or the other, or tend to wildly gyrate between both, causing damage to not only yourself but your faith too. The only way to fix such a thing is just like you mentioned-let the peace of Christ hold you together. By doing (or at least attempting) to do this, your emotions are still there (which is a good thing! No one should be an emotionless robot!) but are fueled by your thirst to steadily grow in faith rather than going on a binge of emotional highs (or lows!)