Hunger Games Series Part 3 – Walking in the Cool of the Day
This is the last blog in my series entitled “Hunger Games”. You can read the previous parts of this series about contentment here, something that really satisfies here and expecting and receiving from God here. The last part I’ll be talking about is walking in the cool of the day.
Once you are established in the contentment and hope the Gospel brings, now you can start walking in the cool of the day so to speak. This is when it gets really good. When you get to this point, you can have joy and peace regardless of your circumstances. The thing that is so hard for us though is to stay in this contentment and confident expectation. What happens so often is we let what this world says about us influence our thoughts about ourselves and we let our circumstances get our hope deferred (or as the Message version puts it unrelenting disappointment). This is the laboring to rest that Paul talked about in scripture.
Sometimes we struggle with getting peace about something that happened in the past and sometimes we struggle to stay in the moment without worrying about the future. My tendency is the latter. I often times find myself trying to plan every single thing out or just daydream about how awesome things will be, but that robs me from being able to enjoy where I’m at. It’s like if you have dinner at a friend’s house and are always trying to get up to help them clean up and they keep saying, “it’s ok we got this”. We keep trying to get up to help God but He’s saying it’s ok, sit down, I got this. God doesn’t need our help to bring His life to pass. As a matter of the fact, that is the one thing that will hinder His life from coming to pass in our life…when we get in the way. I love what the Message version says in Acts 17:
“The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! Acts 17:24-28 MSG.
When we get out of the rest of God that He has provided for us, we start laboring and toiling…basically trying too hard. It leads to much frustration and disappointment. A good recent example of this is the Cubs. As I write this only 4 games of the World Series have been played so far. I am rooting for them and hope they play better in the coming games, but so far they have obviously been trying too hard. Most experts picked the Cubs and said they were the more talented team. However, the Cubs are also the younger and more inexperienced team. What has been happening up to this point is that their hitters have been trying too hard to make things happen. They have been swinging too hard to try to hit home runs and swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. This is what hitting coaches call an undisciplined plate approach. It leads to pitchers purposely throwing balls out of the strike zone that are hard to hit. Now, if the hitters can lay off of those pitches they will draw walks and make the pitchers throw better pitches. But if they don’t, they make it much more difficult on themselves. A good hitter takes what the pitchers give them and go with the pitch if it’s in the strike zone or lays off of it when it’s a ball. In the context of a Christian’s life, when you’re trying too hard to produce fruit and/or see God’s quality of life manifest in your life, you leave yourself exposed for the lies of the enemy to come and wreak havoc in your life. The devil’s mindset will try to come in and take advantage of your over eagerness in an attempt to frustrate you and disappoint you with the goal of getting you out of relationship with God. The anecdote for this is abiding in the vine.
Abiding In The Vine
I love what Jesus says in John 15:
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. KJV.
I’ll get into fruit bearing in the next section, but I want to talk about what it means to abide in the vine a bit first. The word abide is translated from the Greek word meno which means to remain, stay, wait, continue, endure. In context of what I’ve been discussing in this series, abiding in Christ would mean to remain, stay and continue in the word that was spoken about us in Christ which is that we are perfect and complete in His eyes, that we lack nothing and that He is at rest in who we are. See when we do this, fruit comes forth effortlessly. Why? Because as the verses above say, apart from him we can do nothing and he that abides in Him brings forth much fruit. Just like the example of a man trying to bring forth a child without a woman, us trying to bring His forth fruit without Him is not possible.
Now it is possible for us to bring forth an Ishmael, but that is not the fruit God wants. I heard Bertie Brits give this example before; it’s like if a father says he will give his son a bike. He doesn’t want him coming to him every day asking for it. He wants the son to be content with where he is and trust and rest that he will give him the bike at the appropriate time. It’s not like God is mad at us if that is the case but eventually He would like us to have His heart in the matter so that we aren’t so focused on what we don’t currently have in the physical. He wants us to have a confident expectation and be able to abide in it.
Effortless Fruit Bearing/Time For the Horse to Catch The Carrot
Unfortunately most of us are so concerned with getting the fruit, so we can have the fruit and say look what I did, that we very rarely every abide in the vine as described above. But God is not satisfied with the type of fruit that we produce in our own efforts (see Ishmael). This is where the treadmill analogy comes in. It’s like we’re always chasing after the fruit but are never able to get it. It’s like there is a carrot that is dangled in front of us and we’re told if we just do this and do that, then we’ll get the carrot. I think it’s time for the horse to catch the carrot.
As I mentioned in my first blog in this series, I’m the type of person that is a very hard worker. It was really hard for me to come to grips with the fact that I couldn’t product the fruit of the spirit in my power. But God rejoices when we finally throw our hand in the air and say I can’t do it myself. It is God’s will for us to quit trying to bring forth his life. It’s not like we’re getting away with something if we do that. That’s not the type of life we were created for. If you want to give glory to God, say I can’t do this, you are the only one that can do this.
Think about this; do we ever have to try to sin? No. It happens effortlessly. But just like the law brings out sin, grace draws righteousness out of our spirits. When we know of the right standing we have with God through Jesus, living becomes easy and effortless. As Greg Henry puts it, when we reason about our life from the mind of Christ, we will share the same thoughts and feel the same feelings which leads to His life manifesting in us effortlessly. It’s important to note that it starts with reasoning about ourselves from the mind of Christ, that Christ is the mind of God about us, that God thought so well of us that the only way to describe it is the most eloquent speech there could possibly be in Jesus Himself. When your mind is renewed to those facts, His life comes forth in us effortlessly. Then when we have the cares of this way come our way, we are immediately able to cast them onto our loving Father because we are fully persuaded of His desires for us. Just like when a baby cries out to it’s parents when they are young. They don’t spend any time trying to figure it out for themselves. They just cry out to their parents.
In the context of fruit bearing, this not only applies to our lives if we are out of peace, joy and contentment but also in that of others. When we are in relationship with God, we will not only have the same thoughts and feelings God has about us, but also for others. He will highlight needs to us and put desires in our hearts when we are in tune with Him and it won’t be so hard to go and do things for others. It will actually be something that we want to do and it will happen so much easier than us trying to produce it in our own efforts.
Walking in the Cool of the Day
The life described in the section above is what I’m talking about when I refer to walking in the cool of the day. This term comes from Genesis 3:8 in the King James version which says; “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” The word for “in the cool” is translated from the Hebrew word ruach which means breath, wind or spirit. So walking in the cool of the day could also be thought of as walking in the spirit.
Again, walking in the spirit is dwelling in the thoughts and intentions of God towards you. When you do this, that spirit will bring forth fruit, not you. Most Christians have forgotten how righteous and forgiven they are and that hinders their walk with God. If you find yourself or somebody else in this position, restore them by reminding them of God’s thoughts and intentions towards them, not telling them something along the lines of stop doing that stupid. Isaiah said that all of our works are as filthy rags, not just our bad works. He didn’t say this to make us feel bad about ourselves but to let us know that our works are not what God wants. Telling somebody to stop doing something is not effective because it sends people out to try to live the Christian life in their own will power. That’s not how it supposed to be. Remind them of who they are and who God is and trust God to work in their lives.
I know this has had an awesome effect on my life. I used to struggle to hear God, but I find myself hearing from God all the time now not even trying to. I used to struggle with enjoying life where I’m at, I find peace, joy and contentment effortlessly now. I used to struggle with anxiousness, I find that I’m much more patient, not even trying to be patient. The list goes on. This is type of life we were created to experience. The fruit of the spirit is not a bunch of things we are commanded to do in our will power, it’s the life we experience when we are walking in the cool of the day.
It’s my hope that this series has helped many Christians get free from being frustrated in trying to live the Christian life. Every time we are frustrated it’s because we are not trusting God. Every time we feel burnt out, it’s because we are not trusting God.
I also hope this series has helped redefine the way you look at success, given you rest and allows you to enjoy your life right where you are at. The Christian life shouldn’t be a constant struggle to produce fruit. Fruit happens as a result of relationship. Life will accidentally happen in you as you hang out with God.
Remember it’s not what you know it how you think. When you come to know God as your friend you will become persuaded by Him effortlessly. Also, the focus of ministry is not to get people to do what you want or for them to act differently. Kindness and self-control are fruits of the spirit but being a Christian is not about being a nice, moral person. Being a Christian is about being in relationship with God. Everything else happens as a result of that. Thanks for stopping by.
Song of the Week
This is a beautiful song by Amy Grant that reminds us that we don’t have to try so hard. That God gives us grace and we can just be. We are human beings, not human doings.