Striving

Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word, make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.
— Paul’s Letter to the Romans

We live in a performance culture.  The one who is thought of best is the one that accomplishes the most things.  Most of us spend a lot of time trying to earn the accolades of others because that is what our culture (and the Church) has taught us to do.  We no longer own our lives.  The paradox is that the way that most of us receive affirmation from the world, finds us bringing home mere scraps at the end of the day.  The people who love us most are getting the least.

How do you break the cycle that our own need for validation, the world’s expectations, our enemy’s whisper, and even the Church encourages?  When it comes to the spiritual life with God, there is really only one answer:

Stop striving.  Center ourselves in God.

I recently heard a sage talk about the way he does this.  The only thing he truly seems to strive for (even though he accomplishes an incredible amount in life and for the Kingdom) is to center himself daily in the Father.  He recommends the following as a daily ritual:  Go before God and ask these questions:

  • What do you think of me as a man?
  • What is your heart towards me?
  • By what names do you know me?
  • What do you think of my future?

Dare to ask God those questions.  Make a regular practice of doing so and recording the answers.  Then comes the most difficult part… believing what He says.  Few have heard because few dare to ask.  Even fewer choose to actually believe what they hear.

Abraham didn’t try to fulfill the improbable and ask God to bless him.  The Father identified him and called him to the impossible.  It had very little to do with Abraham’s striving.  Paul’s letter to the Romans also states, “We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody.”  Rather than trying to be somebody, he simply operated  out of the identity God gave him.

Maybe the first question we need to address before all the others is…

Father, will you show me how much you love me?

We all say that we believe the Father loves us, but in my experience, it seems like very few of us actually believe that to be true.  At least in terms of a functional reality.  If we really believed that were true, our lives would look very different.  It takes hearing and believing that the Father truly loves us before we can get comfortable asking the other questions above.

Dare to ask God deep questions.  Dare to believe what you hear.
Become who you were born to be.

  • Are you weary and exhausted from striving?
  • When is the last time you dared ask your heavenly Father the questions offered above?
  • When will you commit to doing that?