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Striving…it can be a positive attribute, but I have developed an aversion to that word.

For many years, striving was my default mode. I was proud to be able to power my way through struggles, to be strong enough to do it on my own, and to come out smiling on the other side.

When life knocked me down, I didn’t stay there long. I spent a little time crying out, “God, why?” or, “God, please don’t let this happen!” And then I steeled my resolve, pushed the pain away, and got back on the striving train to move forward.

It really was an impressive sight. This girl could get through anything!

Except that there was no way off that train. I couldn’t stop striving, even for a moment, or I was sure that life would just spin out of control.

I told myself that if I just held on tighter, made myself stronger, refused to let go, my life would go in the direction that I had planned, and everything would be okay.

It was exhausting.

I needed a break, but I could find no rest. I had built myself into a fortress of self-made strength without a place for escape.

“So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts.’”  Hebrews 4:6-7

After the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they were told about the Promised Land – a place of rest. All they had to do was follow the Lord’s direction and obey His commandments. They didn’t do it. About 600,000 men left Egypt, but of that original generation only Joshua and Caleb actually entered the Promised Land. Disobedience kept the Israelites separated from their place of rest. They didn’t trust God’s plan. They thought they could rely on their own strength, make their own way, determine their own best decisions. It kind of sounds like they were striving.

I was living like an Israelite. I knew about Jesus, and I knew who He was and what He did. I had the desire to be what I thought He wanted me to be. And I was sure that if I just worked harder I could get there. I wanted to claim God’s promises, but I wanted to do it on my own terms.

This is the way the world teaches us to behave. We are told to decide what we want and then fight for it, to keep pushing on no matter what life throws at us, to rely on ourselves and fill our lives with busy schedules because that means we are important. We are taught to protect our hearts by building strong walls to maintain our independence.

The ways of the Lord are the opposite of what the world teaches. To have victory, we must surrender. To move forward in His plan, we must fall backward into His love. To find a place of rest, we must obey. We must have soft hearts.

Friends, this striving for the perfect life and for control over our situations will never lead to rest. Rest comes only when we stop, listen for His voice, and start to obey each step He instructs us to take – even when those steps take us in a different direction than we had planned.

There is such peace in handing over control to Jesus and just following each next step He shows. I no longer view myself as the manager of all my circumstances. I no longer have to be the one to figure out every solution. I am learning to be content with the current situation without needing to know the ultimate outcome (this one still needs a lot of work).

Are you tired of striving? Are you longing for rest?

Try one small step of obedience…then another…then another. Those steps will lead you down a path where the heaviness of striving will begin to fall away, where you can ask Him to remove the desires that come from the world and replace them with His desires for you. This is where He will take up your burdens, freeing your hands for the promises He has for you. 

The time to enter God’s rest is today. Don’t harden your heart.

Diane Goetz

Diane Goetz lives in Greencastle PA with her husband, Chris, and their 3 dogs. She also has a conglomeration of horses, cows, barn cats, and chickens to care for at the family farm. Her daughter, Melanie, is grown and living in Kennett Square, PA. Diane has a heart for women’s ministry and writing to encourage women to know Jesus personally, to experience His grace, and to learn to hear His voice. She has been called to encourage, empower, and equip women to experience healing and freedom, to pursue truth, and to realize their true identity in order to be filled with the joy, peace and love of Christ. You can read more from Diane on her personal blog, or on her Facebook page, Grace Overflowing.

1 Comment

Cyndi about 1 month ago

Great insights! Lived it, as always.

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