Posted by: mikenicholsblog | November 13, 2014

cease striving

You have been where I am today. At the end of a busy few weeks, being tired is the norm, having less emotional energy is realistic, and wanting to just do nothing is enticing. If only there was nothing to do! For me the last few weeks have been busy, and doing nothing does look enticing. But there is something that is far more enticing and exceedingly more meaningful. Over the last week, my mind has been constantly challenged with the call to cease striving from Psalm 46:10.

Since these words have been resonant in my life and I have a suspicion you might feel the same (with the busy Christmas season coming), I decided to challenge both you and me with some words from my past.  A book I read in the 1980’s, Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back, by Charles Swindoll, gives wonderful insight for anyone serious to cease striving. One particular chapter caught my eye related to stress. Stress speaks loud in all of our lives and can become the enemy of a quiet heart. How then can we confront stress when we are tired, our tank is low and we are yearning to do nothing with Christmas on the way?

Cease striving and know that I am God
Psalm 46:10a (NASB)

These words are often quoted with great conviction. Who doesn’t want to live with a heart that is quiet and at peace before the Lord? But striving after our objectives can easily dominate our lives and create stress. Every Christ-follower should be willing to examine their level of stress vs. their willingness to cease striving. A closer look at the word cease gives clarity. The Hebrew term for this word means relax. It’s counter-intuitive to think that I can accomplish more in my walk with God by relaxing rather than striving, but ceasing to strive and daily dependence on the Father accomplishes far more than trying to stress my way to success (especially when I am tired, low on emotion, wanting to do nothing, and Christmas is coming).

If you are as serious as I am about a restful heart and are willing to cease striving, your spirit will likely resonate with some words quoted in Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back. Swindoll quotes some words from Tim Hansel’s work, When I Relax, I Feel Guilty.

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory.
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations – of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a good book.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values, that I may grow toward my greater destiny.
Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Read and re-read those words. As you gear up for Thanksgiving and then Christmas, are you willing to join with me to cease striving? Is the word relax even in your current vocabulary? Stress will always war against your desire to rest in Him, and there will always be a new burden to bear. But for us to live wisely and well, we must live under the umbrella of God’s power and relax.

I don’t believe that “cease striving” has been on my mind for no reason. I don’t believe that you and I can accomplish it without focusing on Him. He is God, in control and able to guide us through the busy-ness of life. Enjoy the journey!

Cease striving and know that I am God.


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