Here’s the principle (which surely is easier to write out than it is to live): you can’t look horizontally for what you will get only vertically, and you can’t wait vertically for what you have been called to do horizontally. We all get these two confused again and again. Many a wife believes it is her husband’s duty to bring her happiness. Such a woman is actually acting as if it’s okay to put her inner sense of well-being in the hands of another human being. The person next to you is never a safe source of your happiness because that person is flawed and will inevitably fail you in some way. Only God is ever a safe keeper of the security, peace, and rest of your soul. Here is the bottom line—earth will never be your savior. Earth was created to point you to the One who alone is able to give peace and rest to your searching heart. Yet today many people say they believe in God, but they shop horizontally for what can be found only vertically.
On the other hand, there are many people who give in to the temptation to do the opposite. They wait for God to do for them what he has clearly called and empowered them to do. I’ve heard many people who were dealing with fractured relationships say to me, “I’m just waiting for the Lord to reconcile our relationship.” It sounds spiritual, but it is simply wrong. If you have something against your brother, if there is conflict between you, the Bible tells you to get up, go, and be reconciled to him. When it came time for Israel to enter the Promised Land, God was going to part the waters of the
Jordan River, but he commanded the priests to step into it. God was going to defeat Jericho, but he called his children to walk around it. God promises to provide, but he calls us to labor, pray, and give. God alone has the power to save, but he calls us to witness, testify, proclaim, teach, live, and preach. You see, God not only determines outcomes, but he rules over the means by which those outcomes are realized.
So the life of faith is all about rest and work. We rest in God’s presence and constant care (vertical), and we toil with our hands, busy at the work we have been commanded to do (horizontal). We rest in our work and work in our rest. At times, we work because we believe that God who is at
work calls us to work. At others times, we rest from our work because we believe that the work that needs to be done only God can do. So rest and work and work and rest. It is the rhythm of the life of faith.
For further study and encouragement: Matthew 19:16–30
(Source: New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp)