“Stop Striving and Just Abide”
That was what I ‘heard’ as I sat on the deck of the condo we stayed in during Fall Break. Do you have a special place that speaks to your heart? A place where you feel you hear God more, or maybe you just have clearer thoughts? The beach is that place for me. As I prayed I kept getting this same phrase in my heart over and over. “Stop striving and just abide”. So…I researched a little. Please forgive the stream-of-thought-rambling-nature of this post.
Striving vs. Abiding
Striving: exert oneself vigorously; try hard; make strenuous efforts toward any goal; Thesaurus: bend over backward; break one’s neck; drive; go all out; fight; go the limit; labor; make every effort; knock oneself out; do one’s best
Abiding: continuing without change; enduring; steadfast; remain; continue, stay, to wait for; submit to; Thesaurus: constant, steady, persistent, concede accept, sit tight, suffer, tolerate, withstand
When I looked where ‘striving’ is used in the Bible it referenced the book of Ecclesiastes. I have never read or studied much in this book. The phrase “striving after wind” occurs nine times and most often couples with “this too is meaningless”. In 2:22 it says, “What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?” In other words, What do I have to show for all my striving?
Isaiah 45:9: “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘what are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles?’” How much do I fight God, the one who formed me, and strive against what he is doing. Strive against how he is forming my journey.
So what about Abide – where is this word used in the Bible? Depending on what translation of the Bible you are reading you may see ‘remain’ instead of ‘abide’.
In Numbers 9:22 “Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for 2 days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.”
John 15:4 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
The commentary in my Bible under these verses in John say: “remain in me” was clarified by the added statement in vs. 7 “and my words remain in you”. Christ desired that His disciples continue to obey the words that He had spoken to them so that their lives would be full of joy. Dependence on Christ, communion with Him, and obedience to Him will result in a fruitful life for the Lord.
1 John 2:24-25, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us – even eternal life.”
What about the word remain? Definition: to stay, live, dwell
So…putting it all together after meditating on the above this it where it took me:
Where am I striving? Where am I ‘chasing the wind’ which only leads to emptiness?
Strangely enough I think I’m striving in trying to find what I should be striving towards. Let me explain. I have been weighed down with trying to figure out my purpose and calling and what I ‘should’ be doing. And it became a ‘chasing the wind’ task for me. After talking to my husband and my mentor they gave me permission to give myself the freedom to do…wait for it…nothing. I’m only 38. My purpose can be broad. Choosing to abide in God is my purpose and calling – it’s whatever He lays in front of me next. My purpose and calling is to be in His will. I have the rest of my life to figure out what fills my heart specifically – all the time for Him to plant, toil, fertilize and grow what that should be. So I say: Lord, I want to chase after you, not the wind. I want to chase your will and what you might be calling me towards. But the grander calling on my life, or the purpose of my life, well, it doesn’t have to be something narrowed in and specific. Because it’s as specific as what you lead me to. Sometimes you might lead me to the well of abundance, sometimes you might lead me to the city of productivity, and sometimes you might lead me to the wilderness of nothing – all are exactly a perfect and complete calling of purpose! Amen.
So I wait. I wait to see what the next thing might be. I’m in the quiet and stillness of this space for Him to just guide me without giving him options. How presumptuous of me to think I could give him options in the first place. The LORD will direct me to the correct way.
So, I declare, LORD here is my hand – I’m stretching it out to you and allowing you to direct my path. How perfect/ironic that you lead me back to the verse that has always been in my life: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
And again I say amen!
Questions for thought:
- Where are you chasing the wind?
- Are you abiding in Jesus? Are you waiting and submitting to his will? How?
- Or maybe the very first question you should answer is have you ever extended your hand out to Jesus and submitted your life and will to Him? If so, reflect back on that time in your life. If not, I would suggest you explore it deeper and further.