Luke 12:30-32 (AMP) For all the [pagan] nations of the world greedily seek these things; and your [heavenly] Father [already] knows that you need them. But [strive for and actively] seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid and anxious, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
As I paint the picture of yesterday for you, please understand that I am not complaining but rather preparing a point of relatability for us as friends. It is the holiday season. The calendar is overloaded. Each day the enemy comes with a pitiful platter of responsibilities adding the weight of our already busy life. The stress overload and anxiety hit me on Wednesday. No sure where the oppressive elephant-sized weight of anxiety and the monkey on my shoulder named stress made their way into my thoughts and mind but there must have been an open door or window. Hit me like a ton of bricks. On Thursday, there was an open house at our office followed by a ladies Christmas gathering for church. Add to the mix daily home and work routines to be maintained. I opted out of church to cook for the open house and prepare a cake for gathering. Big mistake. I usually get up early and clean my house on Thursday so I also began the chores while the cake was baking and chili simmering in the crock pot. I was tired and overwrought so I didn’t sleep well. Thursday arrived right on time and as expected. The rush to get everything done under way. I was exhausted (emotionally) driving to work. The Open House was a success. Everyone fed and told Happy Holidays. Check it off the list. Flip the page. Final Christmas shopping list made. Wow – I thought I was almost done. Hair appointment moved from noon on Friday to 10 AM. (God, I had some extra time penciled in for you on Friday morning – but now we are gonna have to rush it.) Loaded all the dishes and headed for home. I made it home just in time to unload, grab the cake (that had thankfully not been discovered by the army of teenagers in my house) and head to evening event. Walking into a room of strangers (new church) – I proceeded to have an anxiety attack. Room spinning, chest thumping, and ready to run – but I didn’t drive and was stuck. I began to whisper to myself – don’t cry. I hate to cry in front of people. God help me. I just want out. Finally home after a long day and even longer night, I was greeted by an overwrought teenager and our big dog had an upset stomach (I will spare you the details) but probably from the two hats she chewed up of my adult daughter. Long day and long night got longer. By the way, tears work for carpet cleaning. “God, why is this so hard?” This was my day yesterday.
The Word of the Lord for today – “There is no striving for us.” I woke up with the Holy Spirit singing these words over me.
Plot twist because striving has defined the last few days of my life. The wave I thought I was riding somehow sucked me in and the undertow carrying me off to sea. But friend, there really is no striving for us. We are the daughters and sons of God. The Great I AM who has reminded me yet again today that I am not and that’s okay is in complete control. When I try to usurp some kind of control or importance in the grand scheme of life according to His Plan – striving produces a weight that I am not meant to carry.
Striving means to exert oneself vigorously or try hard. To contend in opposition, battle or conflict; to compete. To struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance. To rival. Words synonymous with strive are toil, struggle and fight. There is only one thing for us as believers to strive for or after and that is the King and His Kingdom. Bottom line when our striving begins to take on the worldly meaning then it is in direct opposition to God and His Gift of Jesus Christ. Worry, stress and anxiety are all symptoms of striving after meaningless and worthless things that God never intended for us. The blessing of the Lord brings wealth and enriches us and He adds no painful toil or effort to it. It is all a Gift of God to His Children.
James 1:17 (AMP) Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes].
“Every ounce of energy and each breath is a Gift from God.” – Louis Giglio
Pride is an ongoing battle for humanity that I believe no one ever really overcomes. To surrender our life to the point of abasement means to fully surrender to the truth that God is and I am not the power that is my Creator and the Sustainer of all things. To think that I am in control of anything means I believe I can change the Will and Way of God which makes me a rival. To compare my life to others creates a competition that does not exist because the Creator made me unique with a perfect plan. The enemy of our soul looks for cracked windows and unlocked doors in our heart and mind to fill us with notions of self-sufficiency that are lies. My self-sufficiency is in Christ’s Sufficiency. My life and His Power in it is defined completely by the gift of His Amazing Grace that gives me access to the King and His Kingdom. We do not strive for gifts that are freely given. When we strive it is to reject the gifts like love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, patience and self-control to try to be our own god and make find better gifts. Such a life doesn’t lead to satisfaction but endless and pointless striving.
Hebrews 4:1-5 (AMP) Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still remains and is freely offered today, let us fear, in case any one of you may seem to come short of reaching it or think he has come too late. For indeed we have had the good news [of salvation] preached to us, just as the Israelites also [when the good news of the promised land came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not united with faith [in God] by those who heard. For we who believe [that is, we who personally trust and confidently rely on God] enter that rest [so we have His inner peace now because we are confident in our salvation, and assured of His power], just as He has said, “As I swore [an oath] in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” [this He said] although His works were completed from the foundation of the world [waiting for all who would believe]. For somewhere [in Scripture] He has said this about the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this, “They shall not enter My rest.”
It was of little or no surprise that the next two chapters in the book I have been reading were “Be Still” and “Furious Rest”. The end of striving is rest. To stop and be still knowing that He is God. He is in complete control of our life and every single detail is working for our good and His Glory completely independent of us. It is finding refuge in His Strength, Power and Omnipresence that our striving will cease. It is in that moment that the Sword of His Spirit armed by the Word cuts through the enemy’s lie that it is our job to help God, influence God or in any way do anything other than accept the Gifts that He has given us. We strive only for more faith and greater access to the King and His Kingdom. I don’t know about you but I am taking a new deep breath. In with the Truth and out with the lies that have had me running on the endless hamster wheel of stress and anxiety. I can’t do it all – but He can and already is. I am not responsible for the health, well-being and happiness of others – He is their God, too. I am commanded to rest.
To observe the Sabbath rest is realizing that God is the ONLY ONE capable of doing anything eternal (of worth) in and through me so I must step down or rather kneel before Him. A quote of from I AM NOT BUT I KNOW I AM (Louie Giglio) that resonated to my overwhelmed heart and mind – “Instead of suffocating under the weight of thinking that I was in control, I could now rest in the fact that God could do whatever He wanted with me – and I believed that He was going to do exactly that.” Sabbath rest that steps back in the Glory of God and allows His Light to shine is important. It is not laziness or lack of participation but fully surrendering our heart and mind to the living God and His Infinite Power. It powers our journey as we follow Christ with every ounce of our energy leaving nothing for lesser things. This is where striving for the wrong things becomes striving for Jesus.
Psalm 46:10 (AMP) “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”