Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The other day my wife Jenn and her friend took a day trip to visit (and shop..and shop..) IKEA in Charlotte. The longer it took for her car to pull into the driveway the more I could feel my wallet getting nervous. Fortunate for our budget, she showed amazing restraint by just picking up a few odds and ends.
The biggest piece was a bookshelf cabinet that I thought would be simple enough to put together, even for me who isn't good with tools. So, I grabbed the directions and an Allen wrench and went to work. Everything was running smoothly until a piece didn't fit into the grooves. Instead of flipping it over or taking a second glance at the directions, I tried to force that bad boy into place. Why? Because (1) I wanted to get back to watching television and (2) from my perspective, it made perfect sense that this is how the shelf was supposed to go together.
The more it didn't fit into place, the more I tried to push. The more it resisted, the more I pressed. The more frustrated I became, the more I forced. Jenn grabbed the piece out of my hands, flipped it over, and then gave a well-deserved eye-roll.
Much like furniture assembly, the tactic of forcing our way rarely produces a positive outcome in our lives, our relationships and our faith. It damages hearts, it mangles connections and it destroys intimacy. No matter the resistance we receive or the tension we experience, we continue to try and make situations, people and, even God Himself, bend and fit our will.
We force things for a host of different reasons. Fear drives us to respond without thinking or considering. We're afraid of giving up control. We're nervous that if everything doesn't go according to plan than its ruined. We're terrified that if we don't act on this opportunity than another one won't come our way. Doubt does its damage too. We doubt God cares or has a plan for our life. We wonder if He's listening, working or sees the circumstances we face. And when those two emotions grab ahold of our heart and mind, impatience leads the charge and we take matters into our own hands.
God's timing and our transformation process don't work on the same schedule as our "act now," instant gratification, immediate results culture does. New things don't happen in a flash, but take time to develop. They require work and spring up from a willingness to pause and pay attention. The only remedy to forcing our way is faith. Love drives out fear. Trusting that God not only has a purpose for our lives, but also a plan allows us to loosen our grip on our circumstances. Rather than forcing our way, we look to His ways to guide us.
- Where do you feel forced to make a decision or act? What situations are you forcing to happen
- Why are you responding to your circumstances in this way?
God, may I walk by faith knowing You have a purpose for each step I take. Reveal to me where I am trying to force my ways, my will, and my agenda. Let me humbly trust in You while pursuing Your heart. Guide me today by opening my eyes to how I can be used to bring You glory. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.