I think I have mentioned before that I am a little slow on the uptake. Here’s yet another example of a truth I have held onto over the years that isn’t actually true. As a result, I have been frequently disappointed but most embarrassingly, I am guilty of attempting to manipulate God into doing for me what He never promised to do. I didn’t do it with a heart of selfishness or with dark motives. I truly thought I was trusting Him to give me the power to make it through the day. My revelation was sudden. It reminds me of how they tell you when you are working out (if you don’t work out, you’ll just have to trust me on this) that if you just adjust your weights/body position about a quarter inch, it will greatly enhance your results. Just the tiniest bit is all it takes. And the slightest adjustment, a minuscule tweak, in how I view the following words God gives us, made all the difference in the world.
You may have heard, and even tried to apply the following teaching from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Here is how I have abused that verse: I rack up a bunch of activities and stretch my life to a thin thread so that I am exhausted and emotionally strung out, and then ask God to give me His strength to survive it. It sounds a bit crazy when I lay out like that, yet I have been practicing this strategy for years.
I read something recently that slapped me flat across the face on this approach. It’s from a book called 24 Hours A Day. Regarding this very verse, the author says, “This does not mean that you are to do all things and then rely on God to find strength. It means that you are to do the things you believe God wants you to do and only then can you rely on His support of power.” That never even dawned on me. Seriously. Can you say, “Heather. World.” (picture the world literally revolving around my body as you read that)? I have elevated my plans and my agenda over God’s plans and His agenda. Rarely do I follow another important instruction God gives which is to practice saying “If it is God’s will, I will live and do this or that”. I just keep doing what I want and asking Him to bless it and give me the strength to carry it out. That’s messed up.
It is tempting for me to excuse this ceaseless activity by pointing out, to myself, that most of my activities are good and helpful to people I care about and often even strangers. Wouldn’t that all be part of God’s divine plan for me? Surely He wants me to serve others on His behalf. We are to be His hands and feet, right?
This is all true, however, if I look just a bit deeper and with an honest lens, I have to admit that much of it is ultimately image management. It means that, at the root of it, I am mostly interested in what others will think of me. I want them to be impressed with how I can manage to live a frenzied life for Jesus, and how I appear to do it with grace and poise and loveliness (This is just getting worse all the time).
I think I will just stop now with the true confessions. But I most definitely am committing to pause, pray and proceed before I take off running like a wild woman, expecting God to sustain me in the madness.