Cease Striving

jess&Abby

Photo by Chera Zwar

I walked quickly behind the frustrated cries of my daughter. I could see her ahead of me standing at a chain linked fence. Her little fingers intertwined through the fence with clinched fists. Her feet jumped up and down in an exasperated impatience. She began shaking the fence. I looked upon her with a half laugh, as well as awe of the strength that flooded out of her two year old body. She kept looking at me with confusion and almost anger. Then her hands pointed in front of her. What lay ahead was a kingdom for a toddler. A playground with many adventures awaited just beyond the fence. Just beyond her reach.

“Baby girl, we don’t have to climb over this high fence to get to the playground. Cease your striving,” I said calmly making my way to her.

As soon as those words left my mouth, I stopped walking. “Cease Striving”, I repeated. I turned to my friend who was next to me and I remembered those same words have been spoken over me these last few weeks.

Cease Striving.

What my daughter couldn’t see because of her limited view of the “bigger picture” was if she just continued walking straight, we would enter into an opening of the playground. All she saw was the playground but couldn’t get over the barrier. But she wasn’t supposed to ‘strive’ to get over the barrier—in this case being the chained linked fence. She just had to walk a little further and not get distracted by the sight of her hearts desire. She was supposed to trust me to lead her in the correct way to go, a way that caused no harm to her, or unnecessary striving. She was to just simply trust me.

In that moment, I felt the Lord pressing upon my spirit to cease striving in certain situations in my life. All I see is what is right in front of me. It’s a narrow view. I see something that I want, but there is this barrier in front of it and I want to climb the barrier. I want to kick it down. I want to scream. I want to jump up and down until God removes the barrier. I am spiritually throwing a temper tantrum. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this from time to time.)

When I pray… I hear the words ‘Cease Striving’. It’s not my barrier to kick down. God sees all. He has a view of the full picture. I pray, “Lord Your will be done, not mine. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” But then I find myself striving in my own power to carry my burdens. I find myself so broken and on the verge of an emotional rage and deep sadness because life hasn’t gone the way I wanted. I feel knocked back on so many levels in life and I’m striving to regain what I think I need to survive. Reality check—Christ is the ONLY thing needed for survival on this side of heaven.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” ‘Be still’ is also translated into ‘cease striving’. The phrase ‘cease striving’ in Hebrew actually means “let your hands drop”, “let go”, or “relax”. I believe the Lord will not immerse Himself into a difficult situation in our lives until we let go of it.

Are you holding onto something the Lord is telling you to let go of? Maybe it’s something that has actually created great joy in your life. But now He’s asking you to let go of it. Some of us even hold onto things that have caused immeasurable pain and grief, but it has become so familiar to us, that we don’t want to let go of it for fear of change.

My flesh cannot understand the letting go of something good, especially after walking through a season of great loss. My flesh doesn’t want to let go of anything resembling goodness. It scares me. But then I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Trust me, Jess…For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This scripture tells us that the Lord does have a plan for each of our lives. And it is a good plan. But it gives no indication of what that plan actually is. I don’t know about you, but I am a planner. I have never been ‘a go with the flow’ kind of gal. My flesh screams in agony when my plans are disrupted, when I feel a loss of control. I literally can have an emotional meltdown inside. Trusting God is one of the HARDEST tasks in my walk with Him. Lately I feel as if I’m fumbling around in the dark searching for a light switch and there is NO light switch, only the Lord whispering to keep putting one foot in front of the other and follow Him.

I love the words of Dwight L. Moody, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”

I know I have to follow Him. In my mind there is no other option. I may sit down in a slumber and squall for a minute or two, or a week or two, or sometimes even a month or two… but eventually I know I will always get back up and walk toward that still small voice wooing me to Him once again. I’m so thankful He never leaves or forsakes us in our midnight hour.

Just like me lovingly taking my daughters hand to lead her in the way that she should go to achieve her heart’s desire (getting to the playground), The Lord never stops leading us in the way that we should go.

I no longer want to strive at this fence with clenched fists.

I don’t want to strive in my own power to heal from my past. I don’t want to keep touching my open wounds, hurting them even more. The Lord is my healer, my helper, my calm in the middle of a storm.

My desire is to cease striving.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

Cease Striving. Let your hands drop.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

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