One of my favorite verses of scripture is Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”.
It hangs on a wood panel in my den and I repeat it to myself over and over in times of fear and uncertainty.
The New American Standard Bible translation reads as follows: “Cease striving and know that I am God”. Wow, this is different, this is not just calming me, or encouragement to me in my wait, but it is also a command, Cease striving! Just stop!
This life we live is such a roller coaster of business, emotions, discouragement, and the constant battle against the enemy.
Just three hours ago I was working in my yard, listening to praise songs and enjoying the beautiful weather. I felt a calm and a peace being in the presence of the Lord and praising His name. I may or may not have had my hands in the air praising him a few times.. I’m sure my neighbors think I am a little nuts!
While basking in His presence I felt peaceful, assured, confident and beautiful as I felt the reflection of his image shining through me. I felt His power within me that made me ready for anything He called me for.
Fast forward three hours, a grocery store trip, laundry, getting children settled, and prepping for Monday’s work and I am left deflated and defeated as I get ready for bed.
I let my mind go back to that thing I had surrendered (again), I lost my patience with my child at the grocery store (again), I went over my planned budget (again), you get the picture!
As I laid down and started to pray I started pouring it all out to God and suddenly remembered my time in the yard earlier. How could this have changed so drastically in three hours? Why couldn’t I sustain this feeling? When will I ever be spiritually mature enough to move beyond these constant failures? I was in, what Paul David Tripp refers to as my own kingdom of self. I, I , I, me, me, me. I was striving. Striving to please the Lord, striving to walk in the light and trying to do it in my own strength and guess what, I failed (again). Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with chasing after God with everything you have, but let’s get clear about the difference in the two.
Striving is all about me and my strength, while chasing Jesus is crying out, “Lord I am weak right now, make me strong”. Striving is losing your cool with your children while you are trying to drive home biblical truth because, “I have to get it right as a parent, their lives depend on it.”
Chasing Jesus is extending the lesson with grace and surrendering your children to their Savior who loves them more than we ever could.
Striving is anxiety over finances, because you want to be a good steward with your money to please God. Chasing after His heart says, “Lord, I want to please you with every part of me, I trust you to take care of me financially and empower me to make wise decisions.” Do you see the theme?
As believers who are walking with HIM and aiming to devote our lives to His kingdom, we are still striving. Or at least I am. I want to get it right for HIM, but so many times I am failing.
Here’s the truth, I can’t earn his love, I can’t earn a better place in heaven, I am already adopted into His sonship for eternity. Striving says me, myself and I, whilst pursuing GOD lifts our faces to HIM. It can’t be both ways.
Last year, I went to see Jennie Allen speak on her Freedom tour at our church. It was such an impactful night that wrecked me in the best kind of way. She talked about the battlefield of the mind and taking thoughts captive. As we identified all of the millions of lies that the enemy feeds us each day I was confronted with some HUGE lies that dominated the way I view God, the world and myself that needed to go!
On the way home I was talking to a friend on the phone and was crying. Like the ‘she probably can’t understand a word I am saying type of cry’. “I am just so sick of striving, not just in life, but with God.” I am striving all the time. Not in the worldly way of fitting in or having the best outfit, chasing a career, or pushing my kids to be the best. I know better than that. The striving I am doing is sneaky, I am striving in my faith. Striving to get it right in my parenting, love well at work, be a good friend, be a good steward with my finances, take care of my body and on and on. The heart of this is a heart of a girl who knows her Savior, and abides with Him each day. But because I know my Savior and love him and want to please him with everything that I do, I begin this striving. Striving to earn love that can’t be earned, striving to be perfect for him, and striving to do it all in my own strength”.
As I said it out loud to my friend on the phone I realized it, I don’t have to strive with Jesus. Yes, He is pleased when my heart is for pleasing Him, but He has never once called me to do this alone, and as long as I go at it in my own strength, I will go to bed feeling defeated every night of my life.
Instead, He calls me to believe, to abide, to follow, to praise, to tell others, and to ask Him to empower us to do His will. So, I don’t have to carry the weight of my parenting and give lectures in my own strength. I don’t have to strive to shine bright at work for him and worry if a bad morning will kill my testimony. I can trust Him and ask of His help. I just have to be human and ask to die to myself a little more each day so that He can fully live in me. If I am seeking Him with all I have He will do the rest. He loves me and calls me His own. Not because of me but because of who He is and what He has done for us on the cross. So rest my friend in the freedom of chasing a Savior who gently draws us near and leave the rest of the work to Him! I am praying for you!