January 3, 2023
Whether I Strive or Surrender, He Is Steadfast
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"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations ..." Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)
I kept hearing those words in conversations, seeing them in social media posts and sensing them in my soul.
After a few years of challenging circumstances - working more than I wanted to and being away from my baby when I would have rather been home - life was finally leveling out. I felt as if I could breathe again.
But what I thought would be a welcome reprieve only caused my anxiety to spike. Life backhanding me one too many times had left me tense and bracing for myriad "what ifs."
As much as I wanted to make the shift from striving to surrender, I was conditioned to keep striving - it was all I knew. Hustling had been programmed into my head and heart to keep myself and my family afloat.
Maybe you've been there too. You’re longing to slow down and catch your breath, but when the opportunity finally comes, you can't fully embrace the offer of rest. Maybe you're there now.
At its crux, the good news of the gospel is that its goodness doesn't depend on our actions. Regardless of what we do or choose, God remains constant, steadfast and faithful.
We can see clear evidence of God’s consistent, never-changing love in Deuteronomy 7:9, our key verse: "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations ..."
After the Israelites fled their captors in Egypt and walked across dry land in the Red Sea, (Exodus 14) God faithfully and continually led them through the wilderness using a pillar of fire and cloud. The Hebrew name used for God in Deuteronomy 7:9, El HaNe'eman - meaning "the God who is faithful" - speaks to the character of God, even when the Israelites forgot all He had done for them.
Much of the Israelites' story is rooted in their own striving. They took matters into their own hands when they didn’t like where God was moving - they created images to worship instead of worshipping the one true God. Their frustration with God's timing led them to disobedience and stubbornness. But despite their striving, God remained faithful to them at every point. His steadfast love didn't skip over them but continued for a thousand generations. And it's the same for us today.
Whether we choose to continue striving in our own strength or to surrender and slow down, God's steadfast love will remain the same. God doesn't love us more because we choose to surrender rather than to strive. But in surrendering, we have the opportunity to experience exponentially more joy by walking in obedience to Him. We come to know Him more intimately, and we are freed from the shame of continually striving.
If you're in a place of hesitantly slowing down and stepping into a season of surrender, you'll find that His steadfast love stays constant. No longer striving, you can offload the weight of shame that tells you that you aren't enough and aren't doing enough. Then, entering into the rest of a slower pace, you'll find the fullness of joy in communion with the creator and sustainer of your soul.
That reward of surrender is something striving can never bring.
Heavenly Father, I long to experience the fullness of joy that comes from obedience and intimacy with You. Help me to trust and to surrender to You instead of relying on my own strength and striving. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 119:76, "May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant." (NIV)
Jeremiah 31:3, "the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." (ESV)
What is one specific area in your life where you sense God calling you to surrender?
In what ways has your striving caused shame and kept you from experiencing the fullness of God's love? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
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