Running Hard in the Wrong Direction
Because striving comes naturally to me, Acts 9:1 catches me by surprise. Albeit, giving 110% is a pre-requisite for striving, heading in the right direction goes without saying.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
It is any “striver’s” worst nightmare to be barreling down the path of life in the WRONG direction! What a waste?! The over-achieving mindset of a striver would go into full panic mode because part of striving is obsessing over having everything right and planning accordingly.
And yet, here we have God speaking right into to that very scenario. Jesus stops this perfectionist trying so hard to get everything right, literally knocking him off his feet. What hope that offers the rest of us!!
The Relief of His Rescue
For the first time, I noticed something new and wonderfully freeing- Saul had it ALL wrong yet Jesus graciously intervened. The fact that Christ was tender with Saul was shocking enough, considering he was systematically hunting down Christians (v.1-2), but that He simultaneously corrected Saul’s direction made it even more praiseworthy.
One would have considered immediate death for Saul the likely response of Christ yet He pleadingly calls him by name in verse 4. It’s as if He is out for Saul’s rescue, not his retribution.
In essence, Jesus forgave him as He turned him around!Jesus forgave Saul as He turned him around! What relief that offers the rest of us! Click To Tweet
Who does that?!?! What is astounding is that Saul immediately and resolutely complies! In my opinion, that makes this more than amazing, it is miraculous!
As much as Jesus personalized the offense in verse 4, which is so comforting to me to know that Jesus takes our individual hurts intimately, He does not write Saul off as unfit for use. One would think Saul had blown it. It would be wonderful to be forgiven but to still be considered useful for the kingdom? That would be unthinkable.
Yet that is exactly how Jesus responded to Saul’s “murderous threats” and hell-bent striving. He was out for His rescue even though Saul misjudged his whole purpose with tragic results.
The Burden We Are Not Called To Bear
As a striver, one of the negatives of this mindset is the burden we feel to get everything right and make it happen as it should. We feel the responsibility is up to us. Thankfully, this could not be further from the truth.
Psalm 138:8 – The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.
Proverbs 3:5-6 –Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
Proverbs 19:21 –Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Job 42:2-I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Scripture makes it clear that the burden to come up with “our” plan and implement it isn’t for us to bear. God alone is the One who determines His purpose for each of us and He is fully capable of carrying it out to completion.
2 Truths That Rescue Us From Striving
Therefore, this offers us great freedom as we ponder how God is in charge. Previously, I read Psalm 46:10 as God chiding me.
Be still (Gretchen!) , and know that I AM GOD.
I soon learned that “Be still” means to cease striving. Oh, how my weary heart needed to hear those words. Therefore, now I hear this verse as a blessed invitation from my Heavenly Father. He is calling me to rest and abide in Him while He carries the load of responsibility.
The opposite of striving is abiding. John 15:1-11 teaches us the importance of the concept of abiding. It means to depend upon and trust Christ fully to initiate and implement what needs to happen. It is His work being done that we join Him in, not ours. That is how we will bear much fruit.
So this affords us 2 ways we can abide rather than strive.
- We can rest in the sovereign relief that THE LORD…… WILL FULFILL……. HIS PURPOSE……FOR US.
- We can get it totally wrong yet depend upon perfect, loving correction as Christ turns us around.
The Enjoyment of Abiding
If Saul can get the plan for his life that wrong and God still rescue and redeem him then there is a glorious hope for all of us! There is great joy when we learn to trust God completely to carry out His plan.We are meant for more than striving! That's the devil's scheme. God intends for us to abide which is where we find our greatest fruit-bearing potential! One exhausts us while the other fortifies us! Click To Tweet
I know firsthand how much freedom and assurance is at stake. In the last 18 months, I have finally understood that I don’t have to fret over myself or others. God is in charge and I am so glad He is! I want what He wants and I don’t want what He doesn’t want. There is such peace when we can feel this way because we know that God loves us, and therefore, we can trust His intentions concerning us.
This lesson I learned from Saul only confirms that even if I get the “plan” totally wrong, God is more than able to handle that. Praise Jesus for His yoke being easy and His burden light!
I wanted to update you on my ministry of late. May was a busy month for me so I was only able to post twice. I have accepted a position on my church’s (The Church of Eleven22) curriculum writing team and as their editor. Additionally, I enjoyed an opportunity speaking at the Florida Yacht Club for Women for Christ in Jacksonville.
Besides my own personal ministry, I am thoroughly enjoying my work with Eleven22, Women for Christ as a board member, and SheFoundJoy.com as one of their speakers and writers. In the month of May alone, I was blessed to serve in all 4 aspects of ministry.
These are examples of how God is the One who fulfills His purpose for us. I love to see God direct as we seek to be faithful to the opportunities He gives us daily to love Him and others. It makes each day an adventure!
I also enjoyed my favorite crew for Mother’s Day weekend. Our children and their families came and it was such a treat to have all of them here at the same time. We celebrated our daughter’s 25th birthday that weekend as well.
The week before I traveled back to Tallahassee to visit with my mom and mother in law for their Mother’s Day visit. All in all, it was a wonderful month full of family and local ministry! Happy Summer everyone!