What does striving vs abiding look like in your relationship with God? Why is it important for us to see the warning signs? Read on for help with figuring out the difference in your life.
on her podcast, Rooted + Established, my friend Lauren asked an important question the other day that I can’t get out of my mind:
What does it walking in freedom versus walking in striving look like for you?
The lifestyle of striving is a familiar one. I know how it feels: draining. Frustrating. Obsessive. Hopeless. But I never stopped to think about the warning signs of it.
It’s important that we know when we’re crossing the boundary between striving vs abiding.
Why? Because Satan likes to blur that line. He wants us to fall into a worldly striving, an anxiety about our performance, an insecurity about the grace we stand in. It gets our eyes off God and sets them squarely on ourselves – our abilities, our shortcomings, our fears.
Striving is not the ask or the inheritance in our life in Christ. When we live in striving, we cannot comprehend why Jesus says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
What does striving look like?
Here’s what it looks like for me in real life. Let me know if you relate.
Rushing at a frenzied pace
Trying to control life by being good, so God will bless me
Paranoid about being found as a fraud
Critical and competitive with others
What does abiding look like?
How can we turn around our striving so that we can give up the frenzy and choose abiding with God instead?
Literally. Physically. Stop the work and set it aside, as scary as that may feel. Pray, meditate or focus on God. Do something different or distracting. Sleep.
Set Your Mind to Surrender
Similarly, choose to set aside overthinking or controlling mentality. Put it before God in prayer and leave it there. (Even if it takes a while to get to that point.) It may be hard to believe, but you have control over your anxious thoughts.
Go back to the scriptures, dig through truth, and figure out what God says about you. What he really says – not what your achievements, or your failures, or your feelings say. God gives us so much to be confident about before him, because of who he says we are (not what we do).
Need help with this? Get a free Identity Check Bible reading plan here.
Those people that you’ve felt competitive with or have been critical of? Lay those thoughts down and focus outward. Reach out to them, spend time with them, serve them. I promise when you start relating to them and choosing vulnerability, you start seeing them less as the enemy and more as a friend.
Center on God
Do whatever you can (these practices included!) to get God-centered again. He is the God whose compassions are new every day (Lamentations 3:22), who hems us in behind and before (Psalm139:5), who doesn’t change on us like shadows (James 1:17). All his ways to us are loving and faithful (Psalm 25:10). Jesus doesn’t leave us (Matthew 28:20) and invites us to rest (Matthew 11:30).
All this to say: you are safe to lay down your striving with him.
When we’re safe, confident and free to abide with God instead of working for his love, obedience is a natural result. We don’t obey to earn his love and acceptance; we obey from that place.
How about you? What promise from can you rest on and put down your striving?