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Escaping the Tension

Back side of woman standing with hands behind head.Years ago my father-in-law was traveling through an airport where they offered the 15 minute seated massages. Deciding this was exactly what he needed, he stopped, smiled, and told the lady working, “Just go ahead and get all the tension out of my back…”

She looked at him and said, “If I did that, you wouldn’t be able to stand up.”

I thought about this story as I read this week’s chapter from Bob Sorge’s book, the Fire of Delayed Answers. He cites God’s instruction to Israel from Isaiah 30:15,

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength. But you would not…

He makes the point that it’s easy to fall into one camp or the other (either quietness or confidence), but embracing both can be a lot more difficult. Quietness is about surrendering to God’s purpose and will, submitting to His sovereignty. Confidence is about God’s promises for us, His desire to fulfill, and walking in Christ’s victory.

In my view, both are true and scriptural and both can be taken to the extreme (I’ve been plenty guilty myself on those points). You find mounting pressure from your situation, and you want to escape the tension. You run to God and He tells you to rest in Him and rise up to walk in your victory, and again, you want to escape the tension.

I don’t like it, but it’s true: that tension helps you stand.

Just like the massage person understood, your muscles without tension would not support standing upright. When you get a new body in heaven, I guess it will be different, but until then, you aren’t going to escape tension.

God admonishes us to “strive to enter His rest” in Hebrews 4:11 and Jesus tells a story commending the persistent widow who cried out for justice (Luke 18:1-8).

It can become a constant struggle to discern, “Lord, at what point do I cross the line from tenacity into carnal striving?” No book can answer that question for you. Thank God we have the Holy Spirit who abides within to help us!

Every one of us would like rules or a formula to follow every time. You want the steps or principles. You want a book or a blog post. The tension isn’t going away and those who tell you it does should make you highly suspicious. There are struggles and constant readjustments.

I have to echo Mr. Sorge’s words, “Thank God we have the Holy Spirit…”

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it’s possible to get rid of all tension? How do you adjust or readjust in your daily life?

fda-sorge3Welcome to week 1 of Chapter 11 for our book club discussion of the Fire of Delayed Answers (disclosure) by Bob Sorge. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. Since the chapters are longer and subject matter warrants, we’ll also be taking 2 weeks for each chapter. If you have a response on your blog, add it to the widget below. Either way, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

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  1. It looks like we highlighted some of the same stuff again. 🙂

    I often wish that there was no tension, no conflict, no hard or scary moments. But if there weren’t, we would be weak and spoiled and ungrateful. And we’d have no faith. I want to build my spiritual muscles, even though it makes me sweat and makes my muscles burn. It requires tension, but it’s worth it. Right?

    But I do require good spotters as I lift. 🙂
    Sarah Salter recently posted..On the GlacierMy Profile

    • I’m with you on the spotters! And yeah, I’ve heard it said that if you wait to develop faith until you get to heaven then it’s wasted. You don’t need faith there. The world needs to see Jesus and He will mold and make us so that He can be seen. It does mean tough times, and no, I don’t like that--for myself or others! So glad that in our cries and longings, He is there as the Comforter and Sustainer. Thank you, Sarah. 🙂

  2. We need tension to stand… As I read, my thoughts wandered the same path as yours, but I totally missed this idea. Sorge talks about needing the ‘tension’ to mature, but to stand is something else altogether!

    Without tension we are unable to grow which in turns means we are not living.

    In the end the only one who can strike the correct balance of confidence and quietness through our ‘tensions’ is God. We must learn to confidently and quietly trust Him. It’s not either/or it is both. Only then, will we know growth and life.
    Dusty recently posted..We Struggle with ‘How We Struggle’My Profile

    • Lack of growth equals stagnation then death. It would be nice if we could just say, “I’ve done enough. Let someone else have a turn,” but it doesn’t work that way! God is the center of it all and Jesus balances what can’t be balanced in the natural (or at least the fallen version of the natural). Great thoughts, Dusty. Thanks so much.

  3. I’m with you, Jason. As I posted on Dusty’s blog, I’m learning to dance between the two camps better and better with God’s help. Blessings to you!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Keep Watch!My Profile

    • Absolutely--I’m sunk without God’s help! Thank you, Martha. 🙂

  4. There are moments when I am so relaxed I don’t feel any tension, mental or physical. However, I do not believe the source of the tension is necessarily gone then; I’m just usually distracted and not focusing on it. So, maybe that’s part of the answer, that I need to focus less on the tension.
    Kari Scare recently posted..Balancing Quietness & ConfidenceMy Profile

  5. As I read your post I thought of 2 things.
    First, fear can be good, it can motivated us to draw closer to God, encourage us to step out in faith, and so on. But it can also be bad when we focus more on the feelings of fear than on who God is.

    Second, I thought of my trip to Sams yesterday. A lady was giving samples of some sort of diet drinking promising amazing results.
    As I listened to her I kept thinking that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Nothing comes to us without effort. And if it does, we should be leery.

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