Learning to Stride, Not Strive
“O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You, my soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have gazed upon You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. So will I bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Psalm 63:1-4, AMP)
I like to think of myself as a problem solver. When I see something that’s not working, I get in there, try and figure out the best possible solution, and make things happen as best I can to correct the issue. Many times, because it’s a part of my personality to constantly try and think up creative projects to get into, I often find myself as the girl holding a lot of the information and coordinating a lot of people.
And while all those traits are awesome and very useful for the organizations I work with, I recently
noticed a flaw that comes with these things that are so naturally within me: I tend to strive.
What I mean is, because I am constantly looking for something new and creative, and because I try to troubleshoot things that others don’t necessarily see as broken, sometimes my problem-solver mentality causes me to try to force some things into being.
That’s when I came across this simple reminder; a phrase that has been running on my mind before I jump into any project, speaking commitment, or new idea: Stride, don’t strive.
Striving is an exhaustive state of mind. Believe me, I can appreciate being a driven or determined person with healthy goals and dreams. I understand wanting something so badly that you’d put in crazy amounts of thought and effort into getting it and feeling so euphorically excited when you get an opportunity that you jump on it right away. I am the person who loves to make stuff happen. But there’s a difference between stepping into something because you’re ready and the time is right, rather than creating the opportunity and venue because you think it’s your time.
As Christians, we should be careful not to strive. We should be careful to pay attention to our own aspirations and make sure that we’re not reaching for them outside of God’s will. For us, striving means trying to strong-arm God’s timing to fit our convenience. It means trying to manipulate His grace to create something in our interest.
Sometimes, we do this without being aware of it. We proceed headlong into an endeavor without prayerfully considering the opportunity simply because it’s available to us, mistaking the mere existence of it to be His stamp of approval. But just because something is available to us for the taking, doesn’t mean we should just go for it. Sometimes, God allows us the option to see if we will invite Him into the situation.
So what’s the remedy to stop us from trying to make God happen? I believe it’s seeking Him, and in today’s key verse, there is the perfect picture of enjoying the Lord and being content in the place He’s put us in.
You see, the opposite of striving is striding; walking in tandem with the Lord and allowing Him to set the pace. Sometimes, our priorities need a little realignment. Don’t forget what Matthew 6:31-33 says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)
God knows your needs and desires just the same. He knows the things you wish for and the things you’re working towards. We tend to forget that God knows our hearts and has the ability to facilitate those things within us. So we strive, trying to tell Him how to work for and bless us. But once we can realign ourselves and start to stride with Him, we see that He has a plan. He knows what we are working towards, and He will add all of those things unto you, but you can’t forget what your end of the bargain is.
Read today’s key verse again. That’s the picture of where our hearts will be. When you can read that and empathize with it, recognizing it as the cry of your own heart, then you can feel assured that you’re walking in stride with Jesus, not striving against Him.
Because when you can seek Him with your whole heart, soul, and mind– when you desire His presence above all else and realize that His lovingkindness is better than life and all of your other goals and dreams– then all those desires on your heart will be honored. And better yet, those desires will become reality in the fullness of His timing.
So when you’re faced with a big promotion, when you’re trying to make that dream of yours happen, when you get the college acceptance letter, or when someone awesome comes along wanting to take you out on a date– whatever it may be– ask yourself this before you take the jump: Am I striving or striding?
The best way to figure it out is to ask the Lord Himself. He’ll make it clear whether the time is right or not. Until then, try to remember to walk in tandem with Him. Because as easy as it is to run on ahead, you could never create an opportunity for yourself that’s better than what the Lord already has for you. Sometimes, He looks to bless us only after we’ve stepped out of the way and yielded to His lead.