Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.
Corrie Ten Boom
I’m constantly trying. Trying to consistently work out. Trying to keep in touch with others. Trying not to raise my voice in anger at my children. Trying to juggle all of life’s demands. Trying to be all that I can be (no, this isn’t an army ad). Do you ever feel like you are always trying? I want to be able to do everything. I want to be good enough, wise enough, rested enough, balanced enough, loving enough, spiritual enough, involved enough … ENOUGH!
Unfortunately, my desire to be enough leaves me exhausted. Spent. Lord, will I ever be able to do this? Will I ever be fully enough to carry out what I feel like I’m called to carry out? I try. And I will be the first to admit—at times I fall completely flat on my face.
For many of us, we can say, “Oh yes, God is my strength!” But do our lives line up with that statement? If He really is, then why are we trying so hard?
Not in your own strength, for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you (energizing & creating in you the power & desire), both to will & to work for His good pleasure, satisfaction & delight. (Philippians 2:13)
We can either live our lives ‘self-sufficient’ or ‘God-sufficient’. Self-sufficient is when we are trusting in our own abilities and strengths to get us through. We have been so used to saying things like, “I can do this on my own” or “I don’t need help, I’ve got this” or “I can handle this” that we leave little to no room for God to work in that situation. As women, we like to have control, or at least ‘feel’ like we’re in control. And one of two things can then happen when we’re self-sufficient. When we accomplish something in our own strength, guess who gets all the glory? We do (look at me).
The second thing that can happen when we’re self-sufficient is that we fail miserably, and then wonder why. We say things like, “I thought it was God’s will.” And it very well might have been Him you heard from originally, but you took the reins and tried to do it in your own strength.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live ‘God-sufficient’. That means that God is sufficient; I can rely on His strength for my life. I’m done trying to do it on my own, trying to do it in my own strength. His strength is sufficient for me. He is enough.
I was recently tested in this area of trusting the Lord to come through in His strength. Throughout this year, I’ve prayed at different times for the Lord to use me in the area of prophecy (why not?). Then this month the staff was asked to come out and prophesy over the graduating seniors. Well, I’ve never stepped out in this area before. I told our friend, who is the youth pastor, that I would have my kids so if it would be easier for my husband to just go, that would be fine.
She asked a friend to sit with our kids so that I could go. I remember at first not feeling all that prepared and I specifically remember praying that day, “Lord, this is to encourage & exhort your people. If you have a word for them, then by all means, use me, but I take all the pressure off of myself, because it’s not about me.” And guess what? He was able to use a willing vessel that was completely dependent on Him!
The times where I’ve felt the Lord move the most were the times when I’ve just told the Lord, “I can’t do this on my own. If you don’t show up then it’s not going to happen.” And then I have to trust Him enough to know that if I’m walking out what He’s calling me to do, He will show up. He has always been faithful to come in with His strength, wisdom, and anointing.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
In the area of striving in your relationship with God, remember this: We can’t love Him in our own strength, we can’t will ourselves enough to abide in Him, we can’t serve Him in our own efforts; our priorities and our perspective will mess it up. The key is to come to Him in your weakness, in your failure, in your brokenness and ask Him to cause you to love Him, ask Him to cause you to want Him, and ask Him to cause you to abide in Him.
I read this from Joyce Meyer: “Most of us desire the good life God has planned for us, but we recognize areas in our lives that need to be changed. Many times you set out to make those changes, yet in spite of your best efforts, you seem powerless to make it happen. Trying to bring about change through your own strength and plans will always result in frustration. God is waiting for you to stop trying to change and start trusting Him to change you. If you need to make changes in your thoughts, attitudes, and behavior, understand that you can’t do it by yourself. Spend time with God and ask for His help … After all, if He can’t do it, it can’t be done. But He can … and He will.”
Jesus, I need to give myself up. I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own. I can’t do it, and I need You. I need You deeply and desperately. I believe You are worth it, that You are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next. I want You. And when I don’t, I want to want You. Be all in me. Take all of me. Have Your way in me.
(Prayer by Francis Chan)
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)