September 3: Striving

“And he saw them toiling in rowing.” Mark 6:48

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done. The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.

A man who had learned this secret once said: “I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, ‘Not overwork, but overflow’; and already it has made all the difference in my life.”

There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always. (Streams in the Desert)

Life is exceedingly simple these days—much more so than ever before. As a younger man I fretted over unrealized grand schemes and worried that my life might pass unnoticed. While attempting to convince myself that all I wanted was to make a difference for Christ, the clearer truth is I wanted to make a difference for myself. The most severe competition we encounter is internal. I fought to scale all manner of imagined hurdles, all the while heralding to others the beauty of a life free from ambition. I did not recognize the futility of striving.

The only disciple who accomplishes anything of eternal value is the one stripped bare of vain ambition. Desiring Christ is the only aspiration Scripture sanctions. Holy thirst. When I cease straining to advance myself, I am free to rest in God’s glory. What matters is the weight of God’s renown. The moment He becomes all to me, life takes on the lasting value I once worked so hard to achieve on my own. A vessel cannot be filled until it is empty.

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