Trying Too Hard?

Posted on 2006-12-11. Filed under: Thoughts |

Do you feel like you’re supposed to be farther along that you are by now? Does it seem like you’re going in circles or that you have been traveling a lot vertically (up and down the hills and valleys) while not making much progress laterally? I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to try and do things in our own strength. Sometimes we need to stop and reflect and see if there’s something that’s stopping us from making progress. Is there something in our past that we haven’t dealt with. Oh, sure, we might have dealt with the symptoms but did we truly put it behind us?

It’s things like that that can keep interfering with our progress. Imagine you’re carrying a backpack on your journey. This backpack has a really long strap that’s trailing the ground. When you start to get some good momentum, your foot inevitably finds that strap and you trip. You might be going up a hill and this causes you to roll backwards. Or, it must just land you square on your bottom right where you were. Perhaps you just sit there and commisserate over how poor of a walker you seem to be. Regardless of the specifics, the one thing that’s clear is that the strap caused you to lose your momentum which you now have to get back.

To avoid tripping on this strap, you can walk very carefully always aware of where your feet land. You can try to hold the strap out of the way but over time you grow lax and stop paying attention to it. These are things that help you with the symptom (falling) but they’re not really solving the problem (the strap).

So, eventually you come across someone and explain your problem to them. They take a look inside your pack and ask you why you’re carrying a bunch of old rubbish on your back. Then they proceed to help you remove the pack! They attacked the real problem. It’s the damn pack and its attached strap that’s tripping you up; it’s not your own feet! It’s not that you have a lack of desire to walk. You’re just unnecessarily encumbered. And that encumbrance is tripping you up!

This also reminds me of a person who truly wants to dance but they just don’t know how. They’re really trying too – focusing on each movement of their body, their arms, their legs, their feet, their hips, their head. They are going to dance – IT WILL HAPPEN! Now, what’s the end result of that sort of approach to dancing? You’re probably going to get very jerky movements that are off-rhythm and unbalanced. It’s not the intended result.

These illustrations are just like our spiritual selves. If we’re trying to be strong spiritually but at the same time we’re continually sad or finding it hard to hold fast to our faith or continually stumbling on the same issues, it represents that there’s a fundamental that we need to go back and correct. I’m not here to say what that fundamental is for each person. I just want you to step back, examine the situation and see if you’re focusing too much on trying to fix the symptoms using your own power instead of allowing God to remove the true source of the problem.

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3 Responses to “Trying Too Hard?”

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I like this one. I like it a lot. It is the damn pack! I guess the problem is I keep getting new packs…

Go back or let go? If we are new creatures in
Christ do we benefit more from pressing on to
the mark of our high calling or taking one more
trip around the mountain to see where we got it
wrong and finally drop that backpack?

[NASB] Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I say we press on. But look at what Paul said right before verse 14. First, he said that we need to forget what lies behind. It’s those things that lie behind that are the encumbrances we keep in our packs. We have to forget about them. But, in order to forget about them, we need to know that they’re there. So, that sometimes takes introspection and reflection on what’s happened before. You have to validate something’s existence before you can forget it. Otherwise, it’s just being ignored. Paul also said to reach forward to what lies ahead. That is our conformity with God – being raised from glory to glory. However, if you feel like you’re going from lorry to lorry instead, get out of the truck and (as I said in the post) “stop and reflect and see if there’s something that’s stopping us from making progress.”

Remember that we have three enemies – the world, our flesh and Satan. If we’re not making progress, it’s probably the result of one of those. You have to identify which enemy you’re fighting in any particular case before you can correctly battle it.

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