So much to do and so little time. How am I going to get everything done when I’m worn out at the beginning of my day? I can often relate to Martha who threw up her hands in exasperation at the Lord and said, “Dost thou not care?” I’m exhausting myself trying to be all I can be in the Lord’s army, so to speak.
I can hear the voices of many shaking their heads and saying,”Don’t do it in your own strength. Be sure you are doing it in God’s strength.”
But what does that mean? How does that happen? Do I close my eyes and muster up some sort of heightened sense of duty? Is there a bolt of lightning that suddenly gives me a special super power to get my To-Do list done? I believe the Bible teaches cessation of miraculous gifts, so what are we talking about? God does not suspend time so that I can get all of the bills paid! When I have a mountain of laundry to do and hungry mouths to feed, it is still my brain and my arms and my feet that have to accomplish the tasks! What does that mean?!
How often do we set about to accomplish so many things, when really all God wants us to do is to sit at His feet and partake of that good part (Luke 10:41-42)? What does God really give us strength for?
Manna in the Wilderness
When the children of Israel left Egypt, their place of captivity, they followed God’s leading across the wilderness. They had nothing except what they could carry with them. God did not tell them ahead of time what direction they would go, nor how far it would be until the next oasis. They simply needed to go when the pillar of cloud went and stop when it did. Along the way, they found that the food they could produce on their own in the desert was insufficient and so they began to fail. God then performed a miracle in sending the bread from heaven to nourish them. Manna was sent each day. They were only to collect what they needed for that day. If they tried to get any more, it would spoil (Ex. 16:20-21).
It was not as though God didn’t want them to plan ahead or to learn to be good stewards, because after all, they did have to go out and collect it. The food didn’t just appear on their tables ready to eat. God was actually training them. Did the nation of Israel really trust God to provide for them? Did they trust Him to bring them to the promised land? Of course, we know the end of that story, that God did bring them into the promised land, and the manna ceased as soon as they ate the fruit of the land (Joshua 5:12).
The lesson for us, though, is that God gave them all they needed for the day, and it was given to them so they could serve the Lord and move from point A to point B during that day.
We believers in this Age of Grace are not Israel. The promises God gave to them are not ours to claim. However, we are able to learn about the character of God and the victories and failures of Israel, and we are able to learn from those things and apply it to our dispensation. What has God asked of us in the New Testament? We are told to ask for “our daily bread” in Matthew 6:11 which is a reference back to the bread from heaven that God gave the Israelites. We are to learn from this Old Testament account.
We are to trust in the Lord. Just as Israel needed to be dependent on their loving Benefactor, so are we. But we are only promised provision for what we need, not for everything on my wish list.
The world wants us to “listen to your heart,” to love yourself,” and to know that “you’re worth it.” For the believer, though, the focus is not self. The goal is not to live a full life. The goal is to give God the glory due His name. The goal of the believer in the Age of Grace is to glorify God by living a holy life before Him.
So how to do I go about my days in God’s strength?
No, the question is not how much power do I possess to go forth and conquer. The question I need to be asking is “Am I doing what God wants me to do?”
If I am doing His will, then God has ordered my life and my circumstances and surroundings with the Holy Spirit within me and my Bible in my hands to proceed with the task at hand for His glory. I am given all I need to do it,…not always more than that. God in his providence has given all of us the resources we needed up to this point to perform His will that is before us.
As an example, each week I look for times in my schedule to go work on my own little pet projects. Quilting, Reading, Organizing, Resting. For me, these pursuits tend to be on the selfish side. It’s an escape into my own little world with no one to tell me what to do (regarding these things at least). I get to do those things my way. Are those things what God wants me to do? [Sigh] Usually not. Now I can focus those enjoyments into ways to glorify God and helping others, but the big question at the beginning of my week is not “How can I get time and resources to get my way.” Rather, I ought to begin my days and my week and my year asking myself, “What does God want me to do?”
The answer to that can sometimes be obvious. We need to be reading our Bible and praying. I need to fellowship with other believers in a Bible-believing church. I need to be witnessing to unbelievers and pointing them to Christ. I need to be a helpmeet to my husband and a mother to my children. God does want me to be a good steward of my time and energy, so I do get some down times to rest and recharge. Ultimately, my strength comes not in whether we got a vacation this year. I have the strength of the Lord in so much as I am focused on doing God’s will before me.
This is a challenge for all of us. At heart we have no problem thinking of ourselves. However, as we progress in our walk with the Lord, we ought to seek God’s favor and not our own.
So I look at my agenda for the day and sigh at how much there is to do, yet by the end of the day God has given me strength. He has helped me through each moment of every hour. The Lord gives rest. He gives joy. He allows challenges. He grows us in this way. God’s strength was all I needed for my day.