Several years ago, I remember a moment when I sat on a chair while tears puddled between my eyelids. The only words I could muster were, “I’m sorry.”
I couldn’t even look at my husband as the words spilled off my tongue.
We had recently moved across a few states, but by now I should have had my stuff together. And I didn’t. Instead, for what felt like the tenth time that week I ordered out for dinner instead of whipping up a home-cooked meal sprinkled with love.
I felt sure I had let down my family, yet in my moment of utter defeat my husband … well, he kind of laughed.
He basically said, What are you talking about? I don’t care if we eat pizza every night.
It turns out, all my striving had been self-imposed.
But it almost feels wrong to say, Don’t strive, doesn’t it? I mean, striving is what launches athletes to the Olympic Games. It’s what separates the good from the great. It is foundational to all success. Isn’t it?
So, I looked up the definition of “strive” and my jaw dropped.
Yes, the first definition falls in line with all the good things mentioned above. But the second definition grabbed my attention … to strive can also mean to struggle in opposition.
When taken too far, striving can actually contend with God’s plans.
So how do we walk this tight rope of striving? How can we be sure we try hard, but not too hard?
Here are five things I’ve found helpful to weave into my day. They keep me focused on God’s direction and help me loosen my grip when I start to squeeze …
1. Start with prayer.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
Seems obvious, but let’s go a little deeper. I mean the on-your-face, talking-out-loud kind of prayer. The reckless abandonment of your day and your desires because you believe God’s steps are better than your plans.
2. Step outside.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 (ESV)
When a canopy of clouds covers my soul something changes. The gap between me and God shortens. The confines of demands spread out and that breath fills more than my lungs. It fills my soul.
3. Slow down.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5 (NIV)
Notice I didn’t say stop. Though sometimes God asks us to be completely still, our labor for the Lord each day will not usually afford us an all out work stoppage. We can, however, take time each day to pause. To slow. To silence demands and refocus.
4. Saturate with Scripture.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)
When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we cover our lives with an arsenal of God’s power and direction. By His Spirit He uses those truths to turn us to the right and to the left. To protect us, point us, send us and shower us with His blessings.
5. Sing praise.
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!” Psalm 135:3 (ESV)
Whistle while you work! You don’t have to sing the whole day through, but a tune here and there can lift your spirit or sweeten a moment. And that melody might just shake up a Scripture that keeps you in tune with God’s plans.
Let’s Talk! Will you add one of these to your day? Share your favorites and how you’ll put them into practice in the comments section below!
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