This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one word prompt. The prompt today is “try.”
Sometimes I think I try too hard:
- Try to get to bed earlier
- Try to eat healthily
- Try to exercise
- Try to stay positive
- Try to improve writing
- Try to consider others
- Try to be disciplined about prayer and Bible reading
- Try to deepen friendships with people in church
- Try to write more music
- Try to learn guitar
- Try to help a friend in need
- Try to deal better with anxiety
- Try to be patient
- Try to make space to listen to God
- Try to take time to switch off and have fun
It makes me feel tired just typing this!
It’s good to have goals, and none of the things I am trying to do are bad but, as I type this list, I’m reminded that God never asks us to try.
Trying makes it about me and my effort. It piles on the pressure and squeezes out grace as well-intentioned goals turn into burdens and worthy aims become impossible standards.
God doesn’t ask us to try, but to abide in him.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT)
This brings me back to the truth. Apart from God I can do nothing. It’s dangerous to slip into thinking that it’s all about what my efforts can achieve.
I think of my pastor and the impression he does of a branch straining and striving to produce a grape. It’s hilarious, but all too often it is the reality of my life.
On the other hand, if I stay joined to the vine, fruit happens- not by effort or striving, but by his power flowing through me- and that fruit is better than anything I could possibly achieve by trying.
“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)