Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith...To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-9; 11)
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I have always struggled with control and pride.
And if you think about it, these two seem to go hand-in-hand. I think that I am capable, so I control things. I know my gifts and talents, so I take charge in most situations. I am confident in my abilities, so I step in and get the job done. And most of the time, good things result.
And though this type of living may secure "leadership" in the world, it goes against everything the Kingdom of God stands for. And this is a lesson that I learn and relearn consistently.
I can remember the most vivid display of my control issues...
It was a few years ago, during a time when my life seemed to be blowing up. My wife and I - as newlyweds - had just discovered that we were expecting...twins. I was starting my senior year in college. I had just accepted my first full-time ministry position. We just moved into our first real home. And I was feeling the constant pressure of being more, doing more, and creating more.
The one thing that I thought that I could control...was me. So, I did what comes naturally to me when things get anxiety-ridden, overwhelming, and too much to handle.
I went for a run.
And I can remember it so clearly...
The sun was setting. The day was humid, very hot, and my legs were achy from being "dormant." It had been months since my last run, but I knew the course by heart. It was the one I trained on for years, an 8 mile course that I had no right to try and do on this particular day.
But in full-on control and pride, I ran at my old pace. I canceled out the world with my headphones and just ran away. I think that deep down, I was ready to finally "do well" in something and I "knew" that I could, would, and should be able to do this. I was expecting (in my irrationality) for it to feel great. Come easy. Just like it used too.
But less than ten minutes in, my left side began hurting, my breathing became way too irregular, and my legs were stabbing with pain. As a runner, I knew - very rationally - why this was happening. But as a man, it quickly became my fault, my error, my failure, and my worthlessness.
As Peter writes, the devil prowled onto the scene, looking for someone to devour. But in the same instance, I can remember another thought - another voice - making Himself known.
What are you trying to prove, Greg? In everything you are doing, you are trying to go your own pace and compete with "your" own strength. At times, that may be needed. But not in the stage you are currently in. You can't. You won't. You are not enough on your own...Be weak, that's where I want you.
And in the moment, I felt led to do the strangest thing...I changed my playlist to one full of prayerful worship songs (aka, very slow songs) and felt Him leading me to go the pace, the tempo, of this new song choice.
In the words of God through Peter, it was as if He said: "Humble yourself under My mighty hand. Cast your anxiety on Me, not this run. For I care for you. Notice what your heart is believing. Resist these lies and beliefs. Choose to be steadfast. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Me."
And for the first time in a while, I chose to slow down. Be present. And submit myself to the pace of these songs. It was a physical representation of what God was commanding me to do with my whole self: to submit myself the pace of His Kingdom.
I'll be honest...I despised the run. It felt purposeless at first. But in the end, it was such a powerful experience. You see, true steadfastness will always come through submission.
Today, you may feel yourself drowned out by anxiety, pressure, failure, or worry. Stop trying to control, stop believing that this is what you are expected to do by everyone around you, and stop moving your own pace. Instead, slow yourself down and submit to the pace of God's Kingdom.
Things to incorporate in your day... Say no. Limit your "to-do's." Plan a time of real rest. And choose to quit things that no longer fit in your current stage. This is when true perseverance arises.
Thank you for joining us on Day 1 of this series! Each day, you will hear a different story of faith written by a member of our Declare Glory community. We would love to know your thoughts and feedback! Let us know by commenting on today's Instagram post!
Greg, Declare Glory