Tuesday, February 17, 2015

To Strive or to Seek?

I still remember a heated argument that Mike and I had several years ago. It was one of the most passionate disagreements of our 27 years of marriage, and it lasted much longer than it should have. Our tempers escalated to a point where we were furious with one another, about an issue that should not have produced fury at all. 

Hours into the argument, Mike looked at me, somewhat embarrassed, and calmly said, 

“We’re trying to fight a spiritual battle in our flesh. Come pray with me.”

Within minutes of praying together and asking that the Lord would move each of us toward His will for the situation, our tempers cooled enough to continue the conversation with level heads. It wasn’t long before we reached a resolution.

This is the only marital spat that I keep close to my heart. I don’t dwell on the cause of the argument, but I don’t ever want to forget the spiritual lesson. It applies to countless situations as we grow in our faith.

We can’t do spiritual things in the strength of our flesh. It’s pointless to try. Nicodemus recognized this as he approached Jesus that night in Chapter 3 of the Gospel of John: 

There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.” 
Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 
“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 
Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”   
John 3:1-8 (HCSB)
Nicodemus recognized that Jesus accomplished things that human knowledge and fleshly strength could not produce. Jesus emphasized the distinction between things of the flesh and things of the Spirit. 

So many times, I work with all my might to accomplish what only the Spirit can produce. Instead of continuing to strive, I am learning instead to ask. Instead of fighting the frustration of failure, I seek the Lord’s provision and strength.
  • When I desire a deeper love for people, I ask God to mold my heart to love as He does.
  • When I need a more dedicated prayer life, I ask God to help me focus on Him. 
  • When I recognize the need for submission in my marriage, I ask God for humility.
  • When I need to trust God for the future, I ask Him to increase my faith. 
  • When I hunger to understand spiritual truth, I ask the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide.
  • When I desire unity, I ask the Lord to help all parties, myself included, to seek His will.
  • When I struggle with obedience, I ask God to equip me with all I need.
It’s a choice. 

I can continue to work, plan, scheme and strive in my own strength, feeling all the while like I’m beating my head against a wall.  

Or, I can seek His provision and trust that He’ll bring results. 

This does not mean that I can stop working altogether - there is far too much to do. We are called to fulfill the responsibilities that He gives to His children, but we needn’t try to do it on our own.

God is not looking for employees or those who will do His work for Him. He seeks those willing to allow Him to work in and through us. By His strength, we can accomplish great things. 

Here I am, Lord. Please come and have Your way in me. 

Philippians 4:13 
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 

Jeremiah 6:16a 
“This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

Your Turn:

When have you tried to fight a spiritual battle in the flesh?

What difference did it make to put on your spiritual armor?

What advice would you give a friend about letting the Lord work in and through you?

Leave your comments below or continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word
Psalm 119:28



  1. I wonder how much more contentment, direction and resolution we would have if we constantly kept our minds set on the spiritual, not only the physical. Great reminder!

  2. Amen, Heather. We miss so much of God's best because our eyes are on what we see: our circumstances and difficulties around us.