As a young bride, there were A LOT of things I didn’t know how to do. One of those things was mow the lawn. It wasn’t a problem at first, because my husband liked handling the yard work. When he deployed to Iraq in 2003, it suddenly became one of many hurdles I had to navigate while overwhelmed trying to take care of things at home.
My first attempt was “inefficient” as I fought my way through overgrown grass. Though it gave me a temporary satisfaction, it left me exhausted. Luckily a neighbor later enlightened me (after a good chuckle) to the fact that the extra handle on the mower was to make it self-propelled. Arrrggg! I had been pushing it in my own strength for no reason! I can laugh about it (now).
But honestly, how often do we spend our days exhausting ourselves by living and serving in our own strength instead of the power of the Holy Spirit?
Our ultimate goal is to love God and love people; not just complete a list of tasks. We need to exchange performance-driven poison for Living Water. So, how do we go from striving to thriving?
Take time each morning to connect with Christ.
What if, in the garden, satan chose to go to Eve because she had heard God’s command secondhand from Adam? Is that why she was so easily led astray when satan twisted God’s Word?
I’d say we are vulnerable when we are only getting God’s Word secondhand. Even after all these years together, I still need time with my husband to feel content in my marriage. Talking with others about him wouldn’t cut it. I’d feel lonely, and I’d be discontent. Just talking or hearing about the Lord doesn’t really cut it either. It will either make us apathetic or convince us to “work harder” for what we’ve already got. The good news is that it isn’t hard to study His Word for yourself. Even my younger kids can do it!
It’s about more than filling our own cup, though. No good soldier would ever neglect to get his orders before going out on mission. We need to connect with God each morning, before the minutes and hours are snatched away by endless, temporal tasks. Focusing on what God has to say frees us from our performance-driven nature because it reminds us that there is nothing we need to add to Christ’s work on the cross in order to make it sufficient. Our value is in what He did for us, not what we do for Him.
Regularly Evaluate Priorities
In the book of Haggai, we see the Lord plead with His people to consider their ways. In Haggai 1:6, God confronts them saying, “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
What was the problem? Somewhere along the way their personal affairs became priority over God. They had stopped building the temple to care for their own houses, and as a result satisfaction eluded them.
Anything sound familiar? Yeah, me too. We are so prone to do the same.
Sometimes a finished to-do list is a sign of well-stewarded time. Other times, I fear it might mean we are accomplishing our own agenda at the expense of God’s. An open Bible and an honest inquiry to the Lord are sure to reveal which it is.
Know Your Identity
Performance driven poison tastes sweetest to any of us that struggle with pride or insecurity. “But”, you say, “Pride and insecurity are pretty much opposites, right?” No, not really! Thinking negatively about yourself is still …. well….thinking about yourself. Neither the prideful nor the insecure have an identity firmly rooted in Christ. Both pay a price for that.
Knowing what God says about us protects us from both futile attempts to earn what He’s already freely given us, and the equally destructive tendency to think we don’t need Him. Insecurity and pride fall by the wayside when we immerse ourselves in truth.
In John 15:5, Christ says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
While there is no litmus test for every decision we face about our time, the need for God’s wisdom drives us to walk in a relationship rather settling for performance-driven religion. That relationship is exactly where we ultimately find the satisfaction we crave; by drinking deep from the Living Water.