June 20, 2012 by greenhouse04
For some time I have wanted to write a blog post with this title. I find myself as a pastor’s wife, friend, and now especially as a mother telling myself to “just relax” every now and again.
I need to hear those words. I want my life to matter, what I do to produce fruit, so I tend to strive and strain to make sure I’m being and doing all (I think) God wants of me.
But what does God really want of me? He’s been telling me lately to just relax. Not relax and let things go, but relax in Him. Only He can make my life matter, only He can produce fruit. I just need to obey.
I can’t fix marriages through my counseling.
I can’t make sure everybody in our community understands the gospel.
I can’t be all the support my husband needs in his ministry.
I can’t see and care for all the needs of the ladies in my church.
I can’t love my children in exactly the way they need all of the time.
I don’t know how to best discipline my children all of the time.
I can’t fill their hearts with so much love and acceptance that they will never feel alone and unloved.
In fact, I can’t produce any eternal fruit at all through my efforts, not even one tiny, shriveled apple.
Imagine Moses, standing in front of the entire nation of Israel as they find themselves caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. Imagine what could have been going through his head at that moment: “This is impossible, Lord. I can’t do this. You expect me to lead this whole nation to safety? Where’s the safety!? I just can’t take this anymore. This is way beyond me.” I would’ve thrown down my staff and simply walked away (or tried to).
But God didn’t ask Moses to lead the people to safety. Moses wasn’t expected to do the impossible. All God asked was for obedience, and He would do the rest. All Moses had to do was lift his staff over the sea.
Read the story yourself:
Then they turned against Moses and complained, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? Why did you make us leave? Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt? Our Egyptian slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness!”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the LORD rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Use your shepherd’s staff—hold it out over the water, and a path will open up before you through the sea. Then all the people of Israel will walk through on dry ground.”
Exodus 14:11-16 (NLT)
In other words, “Moses, just relax! Ignore what those Israelites are saying, and do what you know you have to do. Obey me, trust me, and I’ll rescue you. I’ll lead this nation to safety.”
I’ve been praying lately that God would work on my pride; that He would increase in my life and I would decrease. Self-confidence is pride. In being told to just relax, I have to shift my confidence from self to God. And I have to ask myself, do I really believe that God is big enough, caring enough, wise enough to do in my church, husband, and children what I’ve been trying to do myself? In striving and straining to accomplish things for God, am I not really telling God that I trust myself to get these things done more than I trust Him? Just as only He could create me, only He can cause my efforts for Him to count. My only responsibility is to obey Him.
I must shift from self-confidence to God-confidence.
When I try to walk in self-confidence I become tense, fearful, and worried that I won’t do things well enough. When I fail, I’m consumed by guilt and self-recrimination. When I succeed, I’m puffed with pride and self-satisfaction.
When I walk in God-confidence, I’m free! How relaxing to know that it’s not up to me to fix their marriage, make them see their need for a Savior, or make sure my children turn out well!! I can focus on the task at hand without worrying about the end results.
I especially need to relax in the area of parenting right now. I’ve enjoyed reading some parenting books lately, but the more I’ve read, the more I’ve noticed myself becoming tense. My mind has been racing with thoughts, all of which are good, but I’ve begun to focus on what I should be doing with my children rather than on what God can do.
At the end of one of the wonderful parenting books I’ve read, Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson, she writes some words that struck me like a bell.
“At some point, we need to let go of our perfectionist ideas, do our best, and then rest on the goodness and the grace of Almighty God. He more than makes up for the countless ways we are deficient.”
“Really? You’re going to read all of the books and be the best parent this earth has ever known? Well, the reality is that you’ll have your good days when no one is looking, and you’ll have days when everything unravels and you’ll fail miserably… but don’t worry, because more is on God’s shoulders than on yours. He has overcome the world. Do your best, and then leave the rest. At the end of the day, you are still God’s greatest treasure, and everything is going to be okay.”