Someone told me once, “You can’t flesh your way into a deeper spiritual life.” Hearing this brought a great sense of relief for me because deep down, I think I felt that following Jesus was mainly about trying harder, doing more. When I assessed my life, I realized “trying harder” had never brought me much sense of freedom and joy. Rather, it always seemed to end in either a feeling of inadequacy, or conversely, a sense of self-affirmation, but almost always based on my performance. I lived a roller-coastery kind of faith.
Philippians 2:13 gave me God’s view of my predicament: I am the one who works within you to desire and to do my will. That represented a completely different paradigm for me. The practical shift for me was that I began to focus on getting to know Christ, through the Holy Spirit, by yielding my life to his leadership in every way in which I was conscious. Previously, I’d focused on trying harder to comply to certain standards. I moved from focusing on rules and and centered myself on developing the relationship. I found that some of the things I thought were primary were actually secondary to the Lord. Not that they weren’t important, but the manner in which he wanted to bring these things about was through the pursuit of our relationship. This may seem a little indirect, but in reality, since the Lord doesn’t need us for anything, the most direct approach to accomplish what he wants, is to focus on him. The more we discover who he is and who he says we are, the more we’re “successful” in his eyes. The more we experience the reality of his presence, majesty, power and love, the more we’re exactly where he wants us to be and the more we find our behavior changing and our joy increasing.
God has awesome things planned for you. He’s not out of your reach. A life of joy and power is what he’s had planned for you from before creation. That’s what we’re after–doesn’t that sound exciting!?