It has been an overwhelming couple of weeks for me. My days have been full of one too many things I don’t feel good at, and I have been plagued with stress. Ever had one of those weeks where things are so out of focus with the chaos, it’s hard to see anything meaningful in the midst?
I know this is not the place that I should be. It’s not the place I want to be, and yet, I find myself in an endless desire to please others instead of focusing first and foremost on pleasing God. As I continue striving in my own strength, I find myself in these verses Paul wrote to the church in Rome, warning them about those who pursue unrighteousness,
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore, God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
When I feel my body, literally overcome with stress, pushing to please and to accomplish and to prove myself worthy, I exchange God’s truth for a lie. I lie to myself that I am somehow worthy of life, when my unrighteous deeds need to be paid for with death. I worship those I am trying to please or the task I am trying to accomplish rather than the Creator who made it all possible and gives it all meaning in the first place.
And yet, in all my lowliness, I still feel God speak transformation and a ministry of reconciliation. Though He does not condone where I am, he is not content to see me stay here, and he is looking to help me find a way out. I see this beautiful ministry of God pursuing us in spite of the ways we wander in the parable of the lost items in Luke 15. The message I see is not to shame the one that was lost, but to rejoice in the one that is found,
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
God is after our hearts, God is after repentance. Though he hates sin and does not approve of me getting caught up in what others think of me ahead of what He thinks of me, more than anything I feel Him longing for me to return back to Him. When I’m striving to please others, it doesn’t make sense just to redirect my striving to what I think God wants me to do. Striving is part of my problem. To come out of it, I need to be still, repent, and answer the loving call to turn back to Him. Again, he repeats this message to the Israelites who are infamous, just like us, for going astray,
“and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.”
Throughout all the chaos of my week, I have felt Him calling me to return, letting me know I don’t have to feel this way, I don’t have to run after these things again. And instead of getting frustrated with myself for messing up yet again, it is best for me to turn back to him, to cry out to him in my time of need rather than continue running to keep up with what I know I need to do. I must trust. He will take care of me. Everything that actually needs to get done will get done, and everything else will fade away. I must stop chasing after the wind and declare along with the Psalmist,
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation and my glory;
My mighty rock, my refuge is God.”
What are you chasing after this week? Where is the attention of your mind and the affection of your heart fixed? The fact is, no matter how much we grow in our walk with the Lord, we only get it right in His strength. Let us encourage one another not to dwell in our short falls, but instead to return our hearts to Him and trust Him to take care of the important things and let go of the rest.