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  • Writer's pictureSarah Mascarello

Cease Striving Keep Trying

Updated: May 8, 2020

Psalm 46:10 - “Be still, and know that I am God…

NASB (New American Standard Bible) version - “Cease striving, and know that I am God.

The term “cease striving” was put on my heart in October 2019. I remember the date because I was at my very first Christian Women’s Retreat at that time. What a beautiful, blessed event! God used that time for healing and growth and I specifically remember Him impressing on my heart the term “cease striving.” What was funny about the timing of this phrase on my heart, is that the Retreat was not about that at all. It felt like it was totally out of left field, but it was so overwhelming that I knew the Holy Spirit was at work on my heart and I, in turn, stopped to listen. (John 16:13)

Until then, I didn’t understand “striving” to be a bad thing per se. I have a bit of a “perfectionist” personality that I have been working on, so naturally I viewed striving as a good thing. It was me trying my absolute hardest, without ever giving up. So, what could God possibly want me to change about that? Although I didn’t fully understand at that moment how I was supposed to “work on it,” I remember the sense of absolute peace and happiness that filled my spirit knowing that God was about to do more “molding” in me. (Isaiah 64:8) This is what I have discovered about what it means to cease striving…

God NEVER wants us to stop trying. Living for Jesus will take constant effort and intentionality. To cease striving is not God's way of giving us a free pass to just hang out. However, there is a definite line between trying and striving. I believe God wants us to relinquish control to Him and ONLY Him! Striving is when we think and behave as though somehow WE can control the outcome. Striving can fuel the tendency to attempt to maneuver situations, circumstances, things and even people to the outcome WE want, or see as best. When we do that, we are basically telling God that we can do better than He can. We all know that is never the case.

Think about striving as running on a treadmill. We will keep busy but we will tire out, eventually run out of energy and realize that all along we just went nowhere, fast. But if we just keep trying, we will run the race God assigned to us personally and one day, get to the prize of His glorious Kingdom, hands raised in the air as we cross that metaphoric finish line! (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Phillipians 3:14) We will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

I love God’s continued work in us that is tailored to our ability, situation and walk with Him. I am grateful to the Lord that I don’t continue to strive the way I once did. It really has given me a break. Being able to say, “God, where are you in this? Where do you want me in this? How do you want me to handle this?,” has taken the pressure off me and offered a level of freedom I have never known. And guess what? The world didn’t fall apart without me trying to constantly make everything right, my way. In fact, my little world has fallen together, because with God in control - things are actually being done the right way… HIS way!

Today, I pray that no matter where your journey is with the Lord, infant or mature, that you will pause and take an inventory of your life. I pray that you will prayerfully consider the ways that you may be needlessly striving. Would you consider giving the illusion of control actually over to the One who IS in control and let Him do what he does best? Lead you. Love you. Give you rest. He is such a good Father and I pray you feel Him move in your life today!

Feel free to click on this beautiful song and stay encouraged!

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