Luke 6:25 (the message)
And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
My family is at the local Christmas parade. Normally I would be with them but I wanted to get tonight’s chili started and simmering for my children and sister who is coming to babysit. Shannon and I have his office Christmas party tonight…the kind that requires a suit and tie and dress. Smile.
So, for a little while I am completely alone in my home. The chili is on the stove and so I sit down at the kitchen table. Immediately my mind wants to race. So many thoughts, so many things to do, to change and rearrange. Myself included. I sense the deepest of whispers saying…Daughter, you are back to your old behaviors but it’s even harder for you now because you’ve known better. You’ve known complete peace and fulness and rest.
I think about something my husband said to me last night. I had expressed disappointment about an area of my life and my man of not-so-many words simply said, I think you put too much pressure on yourself trying to change yourself. I consider his words and that still, small voice and a simple truth dawns in my heart.
If I possessed whatever it takes to change myself, wouldn’t I already be different?
I know what old behaviors He refers to…the striving and pressure so antithetical to rest and grace. (Jesus won’t help me strive.) And really, am I not striving? Somehow convinced if I want to be different and change badly enough (and I do) then I should be able to make it happen. But it doesn’t happen. And I feel like a failure.
Again, if I possess whatever it takes to change myself, wouldn’t I already be different?
I don’t possess it.
Slowly I reach over for my Bible and open up to Luke. Verse twenty-five touches my heart. Trouble ahead if you’re looking for “self” to satisfy. Am I not looking to myself? Isn’t this the crossroads of striving and grace? Of freedom in Christ and condemnation? The work He did on the Cross and the power of His resurrection intersecting my efforts to earn and prove myself?
You may be like me, a natural-born earner and striver. It simply cannot be so easy as my honest surrender in prayer. But wait. Who said honest surrender is easy? Honest surrender takes a gut-level appraisal of my life and a willingness to quiet myself down to hear His voice. Honest surrender begins with the dawn of truth: I really, really don’t have the power to be someone I’m not. If I had that power in and of myself then I wouldn’t really need Jesus. Or if I was a person unaware and thus satisfied with myself then I guess striving would be a moot point. Ah, the ditch on either side of the road. Jesus will help us out of our ditch, but He will not help us stay unaware and He will not help us strive.
Why in the world am I sitting here writing when I have this house to myself and could take a nap? Catharsis? Perhaps. A bend in my heart, a hope for meaning? Maybe. But mostly I believe it’s because maybe someone else is striving in an area of their life. Maybe it’s you? Maybe an area in which you really, really want to be different. You want to change. And maybe you are worn out, disappointed and feeling like a failure sometimes, too.
Let’s not look for more trouble, friend. Let’s not be satisfied with out fruitless attempts to change ourselves. Let’s pray. This is why He came. This is why His Spirit dwells within us, after all.
Lord Jesus, I guess I share my sometimes messy heart on this blog because deep inside I believe this is a place, an opportunity, for you to make all things work together for the good for those of us who love You. I believe that if I struggle with striving and the melancholy of self-defeat someone else might, too. So, Lord I’m asking You to help us. Stir within our hearts a desire to sit still and be quiet with You. Please speak and lead and lift our burdens. Jesus, help us to be real about who we are and who we are not. Help us to let go of our futile attempts at changing things that only You can change. But help us grow confident in our trust and conviction that those things can indeed change. Through You, through Your power and Your Spirit in our lives. As we take the time to be with You, prepare our hearts and minds and for whatever area we struggle, give us the clarity we need. I pray for any person who reads this post and identifies with self-defeat and self-reliance. Lift their burden, Lord. Help that person, and help me, to lean on and lean into You every day. So that when challenges come to us mentally, physically, emotionally or even Spiritually we are not blindsided with this false idea we can manage on our own. Let those be the times we slow down and redirect our hearts to You…the One who longs to fill us and move within us. To overwhelm every weakness and flaw and destructive pattern with a grace and power so fully alive we merely become lost in it. In Your name I ask, Jesus. Thank You.