Monday, January 4, 2010

Rethinking the Rethinking

It's not a matter of making up my mind to do something. It's not gritting my teeth and setting my jaw and determining that I will do better. It's not battling fiercely against the selfishness, the laziness, the self justification, the endless pitfalls that foil my attempts to live life well.

Success doesn't come from me.

Ann's quiet voice reminds me that setting goals and making up my mind to do well will not bring success. It's not a matter of willpower.

A thousand times I've told myself, "I simply must try harder." Try
harder to be more organized, try harder to educate our children better, try
harder to be more after God's heart.
But I know it: trying harder only results in harder trials.
Self-striving nurtures self-hatred. Toiling in the flesh produces
foiling in the soul.
Looking back on the trail tromped through other years, I can see that to
forge new tracks across this year will need more than simply sheer effort,
gritty determination.

Past experience has already taught me this. How many times have I sunk to the floor in despair, defeated. Loft goals hoisted bravely onto my back at the beginning of the day only end up exposing my weakness, crushing me into the dust before the day is half done. How can I live this life You call me to live, God, when every brave attempt ends in failure?

The answer? Christ doesn't call us to try harder. "Martha, Martha, you're worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Mary sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught.

Christ calls us to surrender. To take our lofty goals and our agendas and our hopes and dreams and give them all to Him. Let Him rearrange them and prioritize them. Our call is to listen to Him, and match our hearts to His. Listen to Him until we start wanting what He wants more than anything else. To give up all the good things we have always planned to fill our lives with, and fill ourselves with Him instead.

Some of the things I hope for this year might come to pass. But not because I'm so strong and self-disciplined and wise. His Spirit is the wind beneath my wings, and the power to make things happen belongs to Him. My job is to spread myself in surrender, and let Him carry me in His direction towards all the good He promises to those who follow Him.

The first step towards my ambitious goals for this year is to place myself, my ambitions, my dreams and goals, on the alter. To replace my passions with His passions, and then soar with His strength and power.


Autumn said...

This is just what I have been contemplating over the last couple of days. It seems to be a constant struggle for me, to stop striving and simply draw near to Christ. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so poignantly.

Sue said...

I'm just reading this post now and what perfect timing. I'm reading a book/devotional "Having a Mary Spirit" by Joanna Weaver. In the chapter I read last night, she gave a very powerful interpretation portraying how much of a battle it is to literally die to our "Flesh Woman". She interpreted it as literally trying to nail "her" to a cross. I struggle and struggle to hold her down, put a knee on her chest and hold her arm down, while she tells me how much I need her and what she does for me. My "Flesh Woman" is powerful..and it's impossible to crucify her myself. To suceed, I must ask the Father for help. It made me consider how often I fail in asking...