You can stop trying so hard

psalm 46 NASB

It started with a road trip.

Our intention had been to make the 3-hour drive as a family, but a stomach virus incapacitated 3 of my 4 children, so it was just mom and daughter in a minivan for hours.

We had plenty of time to talk about life, love, growing up and superior travel snacks (AKA Twizzlers).

On the way home, we stopped to get her a hamburger.  My daughter looked at the 16-year-old-ish girl at the drive-thru window and asked, “Mom, did you work or have a job as a teenager?”

She’s 10.  She’s thinking ahead.  This is a good thing.

I tell her how I volunteered at my local library for years, babysat, and then my first real job was working as a legal assistant at a law firm.

“WHOA.”  She stops with her hamburger halfway to her mouth.

“How was that your first job?  You mean you didn’t work at a McDonald’s or anything?”

Yes, how did that happen?

Was it my eye-catching resume, my extraordinary job interviewing skills, or some career-launching internship that I had snagged in middle school?

Nope.

I tell her:

“It was God. I just worked hard at whatever God gave me to do and then He opened up new opportunities.”

Be faithful with what you’re doing right now and leave the future to Him.

That’s what I tell her.

I’m a striver.

I’m a do everything you’re supposed to do and more, work until you collapse from exhaustion, pack every day totally full and then spill the to-do list over onto the next day—kind of person.

As a mom, I fight Pinterest-depression because of everything a good mom is “supposed” to be doing.

As a writer, I’m supposed to Tweet and Facebook post hourly, pin on Pinterest 3 times a day, read 5 or so blog posts every morning and comment to them, write my own blog post every day, guest post to other blogs, send query letters and book proposals out monthly, write articles, write books, attend writer’s conferences, and read and study enough to make sure I have something worth saying.

But I fail.

My house is not organized.

I lose my temper with my kids at times.

I let my kids play outside some days instead of making them practice the piano.

I do not schedule enough play dates.

I occasionally forget to sign my kids’ agenda for school (shocker!)

I am sometimes too-much-mom and not-enough-wife.

And as a writer, well, let’s just say Twitter and I aren’t the best of friends.

So I’m talking with my daughter in the minivan about my first job, using the moment to teach her, but I’m also speaking truth to my own weary heart.

You don’t have to be a striver.

God doesn’t ask you or expect you to do everything.

He asks that we faithfully do what He’s called us to do.  Just that.

When we pack extra burdens down onto our shoulders of ‘must-do’s,’ should-do’s’ and ‘have-to’s,’ we collapse under the weight.

I’ve spread out face down at God’s feet before and said exactly what those exhausted disciples said:

“We worked hard all night…and we caught nothing” Luke 5:5

They had stayed up all night fishing, working hard with nothing to show for it.  Their fishing expedition was a capital-F Failure.

Their nets weren’t faulty.  Their boat wasn’t to blame.  They had the necessary skills.  The location was fine.

They did what they were ‘supposed’ to do.

They had slaved away trying to force success and make something happen, all in their own effort, trusting in their own skill, know-how and sweat.

In the morning when Jesus told them to go put out those same nets off the side of that same boat, they probably blinked tired eyes in disbelief.

But Peter promised to obey:

“You say to put the nets in the water, so I will” (Luke 5:5).

God brings abundance when we bring obedience.

They didn’t have to fish all night.  They only needed to fish when and where Jesus said. That’s when He loaded them down with enough fish to snap their nets.

That Psalm we always go to that says, “Be still and know that I am God…” Here it is in the NASB:

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

Cease striving.

He’s going to be exalted.

Not because we worked hard to exalt Him.

Because He is God.

What has God called you to do today?

Do that.  Put your whole heart into it.  Be faithful and passionate and focused.  Be obedient.

Trust Him with the future and stop trying so hard.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

2 thoughts on “You can stop trying so hard

  1. TGAWrites says:

    Wow! I have no words to your post! Not because it’s not good. But because I know God is speaking to me directly today. He is God! I have done so many things in my own strength, but when God says “do what I say you to do”, that’s Him working… not me. Thanks, because today I feel I can rest in Him again. Blessings to you!

    Love,
    Tayrina from TGAWrites

  2. Grammy says:

    AMEN!! So simple, yet such a hard lesson to put into practice. We think we have to meet worldly (and our own) expectations, rather than God’s. If we could just relax, and trust God, we would be much more joyful people.

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