We got to know the people on our flight to Israel very well. What started with bad weather cumulated with switched crew members, not enough fuel, engine problems and crew rest requirements. We were delayed a full 24 hours with the same people. In one instance, we had to leave our plane, walk across the airport, go through screening all over again, only to wait on the runway on a different plane.
I sat in a middle seat with my husband to the right of me and a young Jewish man to the left of me. Since we were heading to Israel, there were many men clad with yamakas all around us. Although the situation was tense, there seemed to be a camaraderie among the passengers, and we learned much about our companions on the plane.
By the time the flight attendant announced that they were trying to quickly get another pilot over to us before the flight time limitations hit (which caused us to lose our entire crew previously), I shrugged my shoulders and kicked off my shoes. I had been wearing the same outfit for two days; and after wrestling through a night on the airport floor in them, I felt hot, unkempt and slightly irritable.
My Jewish friend to the left of me saw that I had taken of my shoes to let my socks breathe, and he instantly pulled his shoes off. I had to smile to myself. Formality and pretense goes to the wind when you’re stuck. And I believe God many times allows us to stay stuck in certain areas of our lives, so we can see past our formality and pretense and be honest with our true intentions.
Why are we living out our faith with passion? Why are we aggressively seeking to do good works? Is it to fill a need of self-glory or compensate for a low-self worth. Are we trying to prove ourself subconsciously to a world that has hurt us or is there a certain person to who we need to validate ourselves? Are we trying to work our way into God’s favor or is there a nagging suspicion they we aren’t good enough?
God will leave us stuck until our motives are aligned with His. He will cut through all of our Christian formalities and pretenses to get to the root of why we are living for Him. Two people can appear to be living for God with completely opposing motives, but God always gets to the heart of our intentions (1 Samuel 16.7). Sometimes it takes a season of waiting for us to see it. By default we walk in selfishness; and we must daily choose to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5.16).
As Christians, we have full favor from God because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. There is no need to prove ourselves to anyone because we are the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ (Romans 3.22). The work of the Cross greatly overshadows our flawed lives; and when we grasp onto the truth that we are holy, righteous and valuable to God, our good works will be an overflow of that knowledge, not a desperate attempt to earn it.
God will sit you still until you find complete freedom in everything Jesus has given you (John 8.31-32). He will keep you stuck until you understand that you no longer have to strive. God loves you, and He desires for you to switch the gears of your thinking. Instead of trying to earn His love through your actions, dwell in His love and allow your actions to freely express the joy you have in Him.
Take off your shoes and rest in the Lord; and when people look at you, they may kick off their shoes too.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14.14 NIV).
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9.8 NIV).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2.8-10 NIV).
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3.20-21 NIV).