I talk a lot on this blog about finding your strengths, discovering your purpose by looking deeply at your skills and your talents. And I believe all that.
But there is a dangerous other side to that coin; when you live a life that depends on your strength and understanding alone, with no acknowledgement of God and His role in your life.
When you are depending on your strength alone in any situation then it’s all about stress. Anytime you set yourself or your talent up as the answer instead of Him, you’re just asking for a stress-filled day; a stress-filled life. Because in that scenario it all depends on you. And you know what a mess you are.
But when your confidence is in Him and you’re not leaning on your own understanding then stress has a “relief valve.” When we are able to fully let go and surrender to Him, we can rest in His saving power to deliver on His promise of a peace that passes all understanding.
I really believe that most Americans lives lives of stress and pressure to perform and produce. This pressure and stress is only interrupted occasionally with small moments of peace; islands of relaxation and rest from the pressure. Maybe it’s a once a year two-week vacation or a weekend getaway to the lake or a night out with a friend or spouse.
Yeah, I suppose that does relieve the stress somewhat…for a while. But that’s no way to live. I don’t believe that’s the abundant life that was promised us. (unless you believe He meant stress in abundance too!)
I’d like to propose that abundant, peaceful living is actually the opposite of what I described above. In other words, I believe that we can walk daily in peace. Sure we may have isolated times, not of stress, but of intensity but we are led by His peace. Every day. Every moment.
How do we pull that off? How do we engage God’s pressure relief valve?
God gives us the 3 keys to pressure relief in Proverbs 3:5-6.
- Trust in Lord with all your heart. Yeah, I know…easier said than done. But if you’ve walked with God for any length of time you have memories of God’s provision; times when He’s stepped in and completely saved a situation. Trust in that! Trust is built over time. God has done enough with your salvation alone to earn your trust. Remember what He’s done for you in the past! What He’s once done, He can do again.
- Don’t lean on your own understanding. This is the tough one because…it’s our understanding! We have it for a reason and that’s usually to lean on! We learn to trust our strengths. We’ve lived a life of being used to depending on our instinct…that little voice inside that says “Go” or “Stay.” And now God points His finger right at that wonderful pillar of understanding and says…”That. Right there. Don’t lean on that!” (I can tell…I’m going to have to journal and blog much more about this. This is a tough one, especially for Americans) Let me be clear. It’s not that your understanding or insight is wrong. And it’s not that you shouldn’t trust it. God did give it to you for a reason. He’s just saying not to lean on that alone when you’re making decisions throughout your day. Trust in Him. Not in You. (more to come in a future post about this very deep and troubling subject!)
- In all your ways acknowledge Him. These are 3 keys but they are so blended together it’s hard to separate them. Acknowledge Him. Recognize that He’s the one you are following. It’s His will, it’s His whisper you are leaning toward. The bread crumbs on the trail you are following have been dropped by Him and Him alone. Know this…a decision to follow him is step by step, not year by year. We don’t get direction from Him once a year and take off on our own. We constantly check in to see where He is and we follow Him. In ALL your ways. Acknowledge HIM.
Are you content with only occasional islands of peace…those few breaks you get in your normal stress-filled life? It doesn’t have to be that way. But you’re going to have to make some changes in the way you think; in the way you approach your day. You’re going to have to learn to trust in the Lord with all your heart and not lean on your own understanding and acknowledge Him in all your ways…
He will make your paths straight.
Straight paths lead to peaceful lives.