12 So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. (WEB)
When you read these two verses together, which verse do you focus on? Many would say the part that says 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling'. For those of us who struggle with being hard on ourselves, this verse might not bring a whole lot of comfort to us. Maybe I will try to unpack this phrase in a future blog, but today I want to focus on verse 13.
I love what Paul says in this verse... 'For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure'. If you think that verse 12 is directly connected to verse 13, then verse 12 doesn't seem quite as scary. Verse 13 starts with the word 'For' which means that it is connected with the previous verse. Working out our salvation with fear and trembling finds its fulfillment by us simply yielding to the indwelling presence of God that is already at work in our lives.
When people ask me to help them discern God's plan for their lives, my first question usually is... 'Well, what do you like to do?' Often they revert back to their first questiion about what is God's plan for their life, and then I answer again with the same question. 'Well, what do you like to do?' For some people, this is a very difficult question to answer. They don't really know what they 'like to do'. All of their lives they have been told 'what to do' or they have done things to try to make others happy.
While their motivations might be noble, I believe that God has created us in a way where it really isn't difficult to discover His leading in our lives. He created you to love certain things so that you would do those things. If you love to write, then write! If you love to create, then create! If you love to organize, then organize! I believe the more that we can all learn to live from our hearts, the easier it will be for us to discern Papa's will for our lives.
When I was a young Christian, I was afraid that God would tell me to go to a country that I didn't want to go to, marry a woman that I didn't love, and live a life that was not in line with what I wanted. I guess the reason I believed this was because I thought that my own heart's desires must be bad and if they are bad, then God's plans for my life must be directly opposed to my desires.
As I have continued to grow in my Christian walk, I have discovered that my Papa has made me a certain way and has put His desires in my heart so that I can work according to His good pleasure. How has life worked out for me thus far? I ended up marrying the love of my life and the work that I do in ministry, I can hardly call work. Though there are times when it isn't always easy, I can trust that God is working in me through the deepest longings of my heart because I believe they originated in the heart of my Heavenly Dad first.
Also delight yourself in Yahweh, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (WEB)