It can be relentless, can’t it?
The daily grind, paying the bills, moving forward, keeping your ‘chin up’.
The joy and wonder of life can dissolve into a murky puddle of unending effort; the kind of effort that leaves you drained and running on empty. I’ve discovered in others and in myself a curious thing; the harder life becomes, the harder I strain to make it all work. In other words, I strive.
We strive when we fall for the idea that it is all up to us. If life is going to work, if my children are going to behave, if my finances are going to last long enough, if my ministry is going to be fruitful, then it’s up to me to make it so. The world (as I experience it) is depending on me to be super-human and to keep it spinning.
When that happens we become like a person running on a treadmill. We exert more and more effort, only to wonder why we are not getting anywhere. “I’m trying super-hard here! Why is life not working properly?!” The problem with the person on the treadmill, is that they have forgotten what the treadmill is for. It is for stationary exercise, not travel. It’s not designed to take us anywhere. Striving doesn’t take us anywhere either. If they would simply hit the stop button, step off the relentless machine, stand back and take a fresh look at things, they would soon figure out the soloution. They might even wonder why they got on the treadmill in the first place.
The world will be perfectly fine if you just stop for a second or ten. Your family will still love you. The church won’t fall apart. Your business will survive.
One of my favourite verses of scripture in recent years has been Isaiah 30 v 15 “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength…
Returning, rest, quietness, confidence. These are not striving words; these are saving words. It is not my job to hold the universe together, that’s God’s job. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work, or indeed work hard. But working from a place of quiet confidence and restful returning, will help us to see where and how we should be expelling our energy, and might just save us from a breakdown. Stopping and assessing our aims before simply jumping on the nearest treadmill, might just be life altering.
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