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God is waiting for you to despair

From Watchman Nee's Sit, Walk, Stand.

"An engineer living in a large city in the West left his homeland for the Far East. He was away for two or three years, and during his absence his wife was unfaithful to him and went off with one of his best friends. On his return home he found he had lost his wife, his two children and his best friend. At the close of a meeting which I was addressing, this grief-stricken man unburdened himself to me. 'Day and night for two solid years my heart has been full of hatred,' he said. 'I am a Christian, and I know I ought to forgive my wife and my friend, but though I try and try to forgive them, I simply cannot. Every day I resolve to love them, and every day I fail. What can I do about it?' 'Do nothing at all,' I replied. 'What do you mean?' he asked, startled. 'Am I to continue to hate them?' So I explained: 'The solution of your problem lies here, that when the Lord Jesus died on the Cross he not only bore your sins away but he bore you away too. When he was crucified, your old man was crucified in him, so that that unforgiving you, who simply cannot love those who have wronged you, has been taken right out of the way in his death. God has dealt with the whole situation in the Cross, and there is nothing left for you to deal with. Just say to him, 'Lord, I cannot love and I give up trying, but I count on thy perfect love. I cannot forgive, but I trust thee to forgive instead of me, and to do so henceforth in me.'

The man sat there amazed and said, 'That's all so new, I feel I must do something about it.' Then a moment later he added again, 'But what can I do?' 'God is waiting till you cease to do,' I said. 'When you cease doing, then God will begin. Have you ever tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his fear prevents him trusting himself to you. When that is so, there are just two ways of going about it. Either you must knock him unconscious and then drag him to the shore, or else you must leave him to struggle and shout until his strength gives way before you go to his rescue. If you try to save him while he has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror and drag you under, and both he and you will be lost. God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before he can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, he will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair.'

My engineer friend jumped up. 'Brother,' he said, 'I've seen it. Praise God, it's all right now with me! There's nothing for me to do. He has done it all!' And with radiant face he went off rejoicing."





11 thoughts on “God is waiting for you to despair

  1. flyawaynet

    I loved this. Thanks for posting it Glen.
    Since it was a post of someone elses I didn't think you'd mind if I put it on my blog as well.

    I found that forgiveness one time this exact same way and it's so liberating that I can easily picture this engineers relief to find the burden suddenly lifted.

    God is amazing.
    Thanks again,

  2. Glen

    Thanks flyaway, it really spoke to me too.

    Dave - I'm not sure of the origins of the saying or whether it would have crossed Nee's path, but there's a lot to like about 'let go and let God' wouldn't you say? Certainly as he turns from 'sitting' with God to 'walking' in the world (from Eph 1-3 to 4-5) he speaks of our own responsibilities. But not working and trusting God who justifies the wicked seems a good place to start if you ask me :)

  3. Dave K

    I've never read Nee so couldn't really comment, so it was a genuine question.

    There is something to like in ''let go and let God', and despair in our own ability is a great place to start. However, stopping trusting in our works is not the same as stopping working. I don't think we ever stop struggling, but at the same time we recognise that it is not our struggle, and the struggle has already been won.

    There is a fair amount which I sense under that quote I don't like... but maybe I'm just a suspicious soul.

  4. flyawaynet

    It's interesting Dave, -and I do sincerely mean INTERESTING I'm not trying to start a debate about it or anything - how we do that.
    We say it's Gods, not ours and we need to let go and let God.
    While at the exact same time saying it's Gods, not ours, but we obviously need to keep working and trying to do it in our own efforts because how can God do anything if we do nothing? Ok. maybe He can do anything, but surely God expects us to do something.

    In this particular instance of the engineer - if he had done (meaning continued) in that very path then he would likely still be struggling against the burden of forgiving.

    I'm just thinking out loud here, but I wonder if it's practically impossible for us to despair of ourselves if we haven't tried anything and everything available to us to succeed.

    Is it possible to maintain a lifestyle of despairing of ones self so that each petition immediately goes to God in that state?

    Or is it that we must continue struggling with each burden until we have worn ourselves into brokenness so we can come to Jesus despairing of ourselves?

  5. Will

    I like the phrase "hold on and let God". I think it better captures the sense in which the christian stuggles against sin in Christ's strength.

  6. eclexia

    Hold on and let God. I think that is much more in keeping with how I've survived the last several terrible years of my life. In the moments when I'm most "letting go and letting God" what I'm really doing is shriveling up and just about dying while I say I'm waiting on Him.

    When I cling to Him for dear life and let God, He doesn't come through in amazing shows of power (not usually, though He has intervened on my behalf in surprising times). But He is faithful, He doesn't let me drop, and He sends His people to help me keep going.

    I do understand, I think, the heart behind "letting go" as part of what trust is. There is a sense in which I do think we must relinquish a demand that things happen in a certain way or certain time or else we will surely die. And there is also a sense in which, when I am clinging to God, I have, by default, let loose my grip on other things.

    But still, I think it's an important distinction for me. Maybe the two go together.

    There is a situation I'm facing right now in which I've "let go" but it continues to be so painful and desperate that mere letting go does not guarantee my survival. Clinging to God fiercely while the waves wash over me, and then finding myself supported and held up by the body of Christ is a more real picture of how I've made it and experienced the faithfulness of God than is the picture of just letting go and letting God.

    Had his body not held me up in tangible ways I don't think I would have survived (or would be surviving now) simply letting go and letting God.

  7. Jeffrey AAsum

    I know that this can be confusing. But how lovely it is for our soul to get it's eyes off of " self " and to gaze steadily upon christ; in faith, knowing and trusting that right here the miracle will manifest...the reality that if we behold our lord through faith we will surely be transformed into that same image that we are continuing to focus upon 2 cor.3:11-17. And then we do not " loose heart " but are strengthened in our spirit glory to God,and magnifying all that our precious Lord Jesus Christ has done for US and now become for US His Body through the Holy Spirit who now has the ability to work in the situation because of Christ being glorified and "self " is no longer a part of the picture " Lazarus come forth" Amen

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