Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Burden of Striving

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews:1-2

The definition of striving from the Merriam Webster Dictionary is: 1) to devote serious effort or energy to as in to endeavor to accomplish something and 2) to struggle in opposition or to contend.  It is funny to me how these two definitions seem in total opposition to each other.  When we strive for something, we are putting forth all our energy and efforts to accomplish it but so many times it seems that it is a struggle and we come up against opposition as many things  contend for the energy and effort we are focusing on this thing (or many things) we are striving for.  Maybe it is a struggle because we strive in our own power instead of relying on the power of God.  Maybe there is opposition because we strive for the wrong things.  It is possible to be doing good things that are the wrong things.  And maybe the great contender for our energy and efforts is not only the loved ones in our life, but the great Love of our Life who wants our energy and efforts focused more on Him. 
In one of his books, the late author John Nash stated that we're all so obsessed with a hedonistic pursuit of happiness that it's making us all miserable.  We work so hard for something that we believe will make us happy and it actually ends up making us more unhappy than ever.  We chase after all things shiny thinking they will satisfy the empty feeling inside us.  But when we get what we are striving for, often times we end up disappointed and still empty.  So, we go after the next thing we want, getting the same result again.  Not only are we disappointed, but we run out of “the next great thing”, because we have tried it all, and it has all failed to fill us.  
I don’t know about you, but I am tired.  I am tired of chasing things that are wasteful and a poor use of my efforts and energy.  I want what aligns with God’s will and His plan for my life.  I am tired of living outside the bounds of His direction for my life, existing on the fringes of His grace, reaching forever in the wrong direction with His righteousness just beyond arm’s length.  The only thing that will satisfy our emptiness is just on the inside of that boundary.  There is love, there is grace, there is mercy, and there is the only thing that will really satisfy any and every yearning desire we have.  It is not a shopping spree, or food, or drugs, or being the coolest mom or dad.  It is nothing like that.  All those things we strive for only bring temporary and empty satisfaction.  We have to wear ourselves out like a dog chasing his tail sometimes before we finally realize that there is so much more to be had by, maybe, doing so much less.  Less equals more, we have all heard that before and it is almost always true.  Less striving, at least in our own power, more focus on God and His presence in our lives will equal more fulfillment every time. 
Scripture to Claim:
If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2 ASV)

 by Lara Cook

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