Surrendering or Striving?
Could it be that we endure more trials than God required?
Could it be that we choose to ‘endure’ our trials, as a substitute for walking in faith and relationship?
Could it be that we believe ‘endure’ means striving towards ’being like Jesus’, ‘dying to self’, or ‘being content in all circumstances’?
Yet God does not call us to striving, rather to rest. Jesus said that when we take His yoke upon us, we will find rest for our souls1. God also told us to stop striving, relax, and know He is God2—not intellectually, but by experience.
I remember the dance lessons before our Matric Farewell, and relive those two minutes of dancing with the instructor! Not only did His confidence quell my awkwardness, but the more I surrendered to his leading, the more could feel the rhythm flow from his body into mine.
Without doubt, the more I surrendered, the easier the dance became. I wonder if this memory could be a picture of relaxing and knowing that God is God? And if so, how do we live like this, practically?
These thoughts mull in my mind as I reflect on my ongoing cycles of drowning in waters of busyness.
Whispers of Leading
Though I’ve taken some leave to bring order to my chaos, I just sit at my desk and stare at the piles of stuff screaming for attention. I close my eyes and sigh: How did I land up at this place again? Why is it that no matter how much of my work I delegate, I still end up drowning?
When I opened my eyes again, I noticed the name of a book listed on a page in a pile in front of me: Grace above Grind, by Shae Bynes.
Yeah, that’s a book I should be reading—I wonder if there’s a Kindle version? I pick up my phone, find it on Amazon, and click the ‘Buy Now’ button.
Then I make coffee, fetch my Kindle from the bedroom, and head for the garden bench under my rambling rose.
The more I read Shae’s book, the more I think about the Israelites at Marah3. Though I’ve have been meditating on this story for weeks, I feel like I’m missing something that God is saying.
The story’s about the Israel’s arrival at Marah. They were thirsty, but the water was awful. They cried out to God and God showed Moses a tree. Moses threw the tree into the water, and the water became sweet.
Then God gave them a Law, and said that if they listen to Him He would not put on them the diseases He put on Egypt. Ah! Wait a minute, I think I get it!
Learning to Listen
Can it be that our bitter places are invitations to deeper relationship? Can it be that our bitter places are opportunities to experience the leading of God, and when we surrender to His leading, our bitter places become sweet?
Can it be, though, that instead of waiting for God’s leading, we look to ourselves? As we look to ourselves, we start to focus on our steps. Focusing of our steps, we find we’re no longer in harmony with our Dance-Partner, and we begin to trip and fall.
Shae taught how to listen for the Holy Spirit’s moment-by-moment leading, and I started to apply her teaching over the course of my leave.
When I stopped to listen for the Spirit, I found myself getting new ideas for structuring my work and scheduling my tasks. I also gained new perspective, and direction, and focus.
Then after my leave, I returned to work with enthusiasm—My work life was going to be a dream!
The dream ended with a Microsoft update at lunchtime, on my first day back at work, leaving my laptop confused and stammering.
Will this cycle never end? I wailed.
Listening, Trust, and Rest
But now it’s more than a month since I’ve been back at work, and despite my (still) confused and stammering laptop, I’m more aware of God’s peace and leading.
I’ve not yet learnt to remain in perfect harmony, and still frequently stumble, trip, and tread on His toes! But when I do surrender to His leading, I find I can do what needs to be done, while staying in His peace.
And the more I relax, the more I feel His leading. The more I surrender to His leading, the more I learn to trust Him. And the more I trust Him, the more I can relax and feel His leading.
Could it be that our life is a dance? And when we learn to relax into the leading of our Partner, we find ourselves dancing in His grace?