Bible study, Encouragement/Devotional, Faith, Growth, Lifestyle, Ouch!, Purpose

From Striving to Abiding

I must say, even writing this post, made it feel like I was striving…striving to push out a blog post on the first Thursday as I usually do every month, just for the sake of writing it. What I discovered was that I could have wasted several hours staring at a blank laptop screen simply because I wanted to do things in my own time a week ago. Instead, I chose to abide in God’s timing to finish it and provide me with the necessary words and inspiration, which for me happened to be the night before it was scheduled to be posted. FYI, this is not a good thing for us planners! May I add that He also helped me to knock it out in less time than I usually spend writing a post? Go figure right?! Lol.

Striving is something I know all too well. I have reason to believe that you may too, and perhaps you may not even know you are doing it. Trust me, no judgment here! If you are anything like me, you might have assumed that striving was a good thing. We often hear this word as it relates to phrases such as: striving for excellence, striving for perfection or striving for greatness, and the list goes on and on. All good things right?! Dictionary.com even defines strive like this:

to make great efforts to achieve or attain something.

Sis, before you get too excited however, indulge me as we read through some other definitions,

to struggle or fight vigorously; to exert oneself, try hard, to contend in opposition, battle or any conflict; compete; to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance.

Then insert what the Lord spoke to me the other night as I was drifting off to sleep:

You are striving, not abiding.

Ouch Lord! Of course, He was right. As a result, I could feel the results of this undue pressure rising, in addition to the frustration and anxiety I was causing myself unnecessarily, instead of just slipping back into the pace He had set for me concerning a major transition that will be taking place in my life soon. While I was steadily trying to rush ahead of Him and working my brain to figure things out without Him, He whispered it to me again. Then, He reminded me of something else–a time a little over 11 years ago when He said this to me,

Stop striving with me Charlene!

Double ouch, lol! (Does the Lord come for anyone else like this? Let’s chat sis!) Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m known for planning the course of my life (or at least attempting to), holding on to my life and plans, when God has called me to lay it down before Him, gripping my will so tightly that there was no way I could grab a hold of His will or it would mean I would have to let go of my own. At that season in my life, I was always fighting in a tug of war with the Lord and frankly sis, the struggle was wearing me out, literally! Foolishly, I thought I could somehow change God’s mind or get Him to agree with me, see things from my perspecitve or do things my way. It reminded me of something one of the ministers at my old church used to always say, “It’s better to go the way of the Lord first instead of trying to do things in your own way or on your own. It will save you a lot of heartache, pain and suffering because you will eventually have to go His way anyway.” Can I get an amen somebody?!

Now, let’s go back to the first definition of strive. One may read it and wonder, “Well Charlene, what’s wrong with making great efforts to achieve or attain something?” Nothing is wrong with it…as long as your reasons or motives for making the great efforts don’t keep you from abiding in God. In the words of my big brother, Paul, let me submit to you a more excellent way.

Abiding, in the Greek is meno, which means

to dwell, remain, live , stay, continue, endure, be present, stand, tarry, be kept

Oxford Languages defines it this way:

to remain, wait, or to accept or act in accordance with

What are you striving for? Where are you not abiding in God? Have you been striving against God’s will? Are you striving:

  • against what He knows is best for you, even when it means you may have to wait?
  • against remaining in a season longer than you anticipated?
  • against tarrying in prayer a little longer for that loved one?
  • against dwelling in an uncomfortable place while He prunes you?
  • against enduring a hardship that may be stretching your faith, but also maturing you?
  • against being present in a relationship that is a bit strained and difficult right now, but is teaching you what it means to love 1 Corinthians 13 style?

When you may be striving:

  1. I become easily frustrated when doing something and it isn’t going my way.
  2. I try to make things happen, in my own timing, although God has already told me to wait.
  3. I am worn out, feel defeated or just disappointed and discontented about a situation or God Himself, even though I have been working to resolve or deal with the issue and seems like nothing is happening.

What could you add to this list?

When you are striving instead of abiding, chances are you don’t believe or trust something about God or His character. Therefore, you fight against it or try to do things your own way, even when you know it’s forced, and you seem to keep hitting a brick wall at every turn. I want to challenge you to ask Him to reveal to you what you are or are not believing about Him or where you may be lacking trust in His goodness or commitment to see you through.

When you are abiding:

I can guarantee you that when we are really abiding in True Vine, although there will be pruning, there will also be more fruit, i.e. more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

When we are abiding and not striving, we can simply ask the Lord for something instead of having to exert such great effort and expend unnecessary energy to get it.

But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

John 15:7, NLT

This doesn’t mean that we get what we want. The key here is that the more we are filled with God’s words, which remain in us, the more we will be asking for things that glorify Him and are in His will, not our own. And whatever we ask, God will supersede even that!

If you have been striving instead of abiding, pause right now. Step away from the situation. Take a deep breath in and out and then ask the Lord whether you are striving or abiding and ask Him to help you learn how to move from striving to abiding. Let me know what you discover.

But before you go…

***Tomorrow is not promised. Today is all we have. If you are reading this and haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior, would you consider doing so right now? Jesus died so He could have a personal relationship with you and so that one day, when you leave this earth, you can spend eternity with Him. You can say a prayer similar to this:

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. You showed Your great love for me, while I was in my sinful state, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. Today, right now, I declare that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Please enter into my heart, Lord Jesus, forgive me of all of my sins, and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. I choose this day to live for You, all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you said this prayer (or something similar) and you truly meant it, welcome to the family of God! Angels in heaven are rejoicing with you on the best decision you will ever make in life, and so am I! Please send me an email (ladyinwaiting222@gmail.com) or respond to this post so I can celebrate with you!

Then the Lord God made a woman

Genesis 2:22, NLT

Scripture references: The Holy Bible (NLT)

References: dictionary.com, vocabulary.com, https://www.blueletterbible.org

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