Get Into the Word: Romans 7:18-20
“For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me.”
It was a regular morning walk on a familiar path when a friend casually asked, “Why do you always do so much?” The question caught me off guard and within seconds I realized didn’t know the answer. I always assumed “doing so much” was to be celebrated. I had never stopped to consider what force was driving me.
Have you ever wondered why you do that thing you do?
There is a pattern to the way we respond to the fear that presses on our hearts. There are patterns in the way we answer questions about our worth, ability and significance, and in the way we respond to worry, stress, conflict, boredom and feeling overwhelmed.
Yet, we don’t pause long enough to ask why we are the way we are or why we do what we do. (We prefer to save our why’s for God.) It’s easier to keep doing what we’ve always done.
These patterns flew under the radar of my consciousness for most of my life—patterns triggered by fear of failure and fear of not being enough. I would strive to stick to the tasks and relationships God called me to as I was certain that was but when I felt overwhelmed, I would hide. Perhaps you’ve done the same?
Striving wears many hats. We think the problem we haven’t been able to solve or the habit we haven’t been able to change is simply because we haven’t tried hard enough yet. Keep busy. Keep everyone happy. Don’t miss out. Stay in control. Do better. Be in the know. Work harder. Be perfect. Try more. And, don’t fail.
When we constantly strive, we paint God as a taskmaster endlessly demanding that we do it again, do it better, and do more. When the striver in us can no longer keep up, we hide.
Hiding also wears many hats but essentially, we escape. We withdraw from relationships or circumstances (physically and/or emotionally), stay behind our walls, and point fingers at this and them. We mindlessly scroll through social media, entertain endless if only’s, binge on Netflix, or procrastinate. Or, we escape through food, drink or other substances.
When we hide, we paint God as an accuser who wags His finger, constantly uttering, shame on you.
Only when I grew tired of cycling between both striving and hiding did He show me the alternative.
Next week, we will explore how these patterns cause hearts to become hardened and the alternative to striving and hiding. Today, ask God to begin revealing patterns that characterize your life.
Talk to God:
HE: What truth will you declare about His name, His kingdom and His will?
Allow Psalm 145:8-13 fuel your worship of Him today, confessing that He is neither a taskmaster nor an accuser, but gracious, patient, slow to anger and full of lovingkindness toward you in Jesus Christ.
ME: What will you ask Him to give, forgive and deliver you from?
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
WE: What do you want Him to empty you of and fill you with His Spirit for?
Fill me with your Spirit so I can evaluate my actions against your Truth and be instructed by You. Give me the mind of Christ to see myself as you see me in light of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)
Join the Conversation:
Are you more likely to strive or hide? What beliefs about God might be fueling your patterns?
This post is an excerpt from Cultivate: 40 days of Preparing Our Hearts for Him. To learn more, or to sign up, CLICK HERE.