Grimly Determined?

A long time ago the teacher’s advice during a gym class baseball game made an impression on me. Never an athlete, I wanted desperately to make a hit. I gripped the bat in grim determination, stared at the pitcher, and swung wildly at the pitch. You guessed it – I struck out yet again! The teacher told me I was trying too hard, over-thinking the game.  That advice never did help me with my baseball game, but it has stayed with me as a life lesson. When I allow myself to become a knot of tension, when I am overly focused on me, I am trying too hard and, if I’m wrapped up in myself, I am certain to fail to live as God desires.

The Scripture promises us that God is always at work, that He is greater than the situations that frustrate us, that He can and will accomplish His purpose in us and through us but we must be willing to let Him lead. Paul writes “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 3:16, NLT)  “Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)  That is not just for super-saints.  

I believe that sometimes we ‘try too hard’ on our own and end up getting in God’s way, that our unwillingness to wait, to trust, to pray actually hinders the work of God, the Spirit. A prime example are the wandering Israelites of the Exodus. When they chose their own wisdom, when they followed the ‘intelligence’ of the spies who declared the conquest of Promised Land would formidable, near impossible, God let them wander for a generation!  Only after they died did their children get to possess the promise of God.

I make no case for being passive or for resignation to ‘fate.’ Our faith must be robust, our hands engaged in the work to which He calls us. God Almighty has chosen to work with us, as amazing as that seems. He gives freedom to walk with Him, to know the joy of fulfilling His plans.  He also will let us rebel and resist, to doubt and delay, though not without consequence.  Sometimes I think that Christians who claim to be ‘waiting on the Lord’ or who delay action by saying ‘I’ll pray about it,’ are just avoiding making a tough decision or doing the hard thing that He asks.

A Psalm gives us an image to ponder about our constant response to our God. “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.” (Psalm 123:1-2, NIV)  There is a submission, a surrender, that allows His perfect will to emerge. So we sing, “Perfect submission, all is at rest. I in my Savior am happy and blest. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness; lost in His love.”  (Blessed Assurance)

Let the Lord lead you, alert to His ways, attentive to His word.  Instead of trying to wrestle a blessing from His hands, open yours to accept what He is ready to give.

Are you trying too hard? Pause, reflect, listen, give thanks, receive!

Here’s a word from the Word.  May your soul sing with the Psalmist about the glorious works of our God.

“You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.

Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy. You care for the land and water it;  you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.”
(Psalm 65:5-9, NIV)

__________________

Blessed Assurance
(Carrie Underwood’s simple presentation of the hymn will help you to worship this day)

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation purchase of God
Born of His Spirit washed in His blood

This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Perfect submission perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy whispers of love

Perfect submission all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest
Watching and waiting looking above
Filled with His goodness lost in His love

Fanny Jane Crosby © Words: Public Domain

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