If you’ve been a writer for any length of time, you must know the feeling of thoughts flowing from other thoughts that get you all excited and inspire you to write! Don’t you just love it when that happens? Funny how that works, isn’t it? It’s even funnier when what I originally intended to write or speak about, takes on a completely different direction as I begin to put it all together. This is what happened after I wrote my February blog post, which you can read here: Straight from a Faithful Heart. Sometimes all it takes to get my heart pumping, my mind igniting, and my fingers computing are simple little words or phrases found within Scripture! Two words that had this effect on me recently were, “Cease striving”.“Cease striving”. This short phrase has actually been percolating in my heart for several months, maybe even years now—poking and prodding its way into my heart, soul, and mind. Much like I described in my blog last month, Straight from an Inquisitive Heart, I began asking myself questions like: What was it about these two words that quickened my heart? What excited me? How did it challenge me? Is there anything I’m experiencing in my life right now that might pertain to these two words? And what life principles can I draw from them?
Years ago I came across this catchy phrase, “You gotta be who you is. Cause if you ain’t who you is, you is who you ain’t.” That can prove to be a challenge when we’re striving to be all that God wants us to be! Did I say striving? Hmm…
Speaking of striving, I found myself feeling less than stellar in all of my ministry pursuits. I felt that somehow I needed to be more than I was being. I needed to attain to more than what I was doing to be more adequate in my calling as a speaker and author. Somehow, even amid the multiple ministries I was initiating and involved with, I had it stuck in my head that what I was doing for the Lord wasn’t quite enough. From there my thoughts hit the spring-board and dove into pride. I began to feel that somehow I needed to find a larger platform for His message to be told through me. I wasn’t doing enough to “get myself out there”. Look at all of those other speakers, authors, and women in Christian leadership! Comparison pulled me under and I recognized the voice of the Enemy aiming his darts straight for my defeated heart.
It was in the middle of these defeating thoughts that the Lord heard my cry for help and came to my rescue. As a part of a ministry initiative I was involved in, I attended an intimate women’s leadership retreat. There, five of us enjoyed a rich time of fellowship, prayer, sharing around God’s Word, and encouraging each other in His ministry to us and through us. We took turns praying for one another in a “prayer chair”. When my turn came, my heart was completely overwhelmed. While tears, mixed with pain, sorrow and shame, escaped my innermost being, they also released a sweet sense of God’s most profound hand on my heart, restoring my soul. Rich truths were prayed over me and soaked me in God’s unconditional love. Words were spoken that reminded me how God was delighting in me. He was rejoicing over me with singing. He was going to turn my mourning into laughter. He was pleased with me. And again, the Lord’s profound, healing words washed over me, “Lisa, cease striving. You’re doing all that I’ve asked of you. Thank you. Now, just be still and know that I am your God.”
I can’t fully describe for you the humble joy that filled my soul in that moment. With it came a peaceful assurance—a quieting of my heart—as I experienced a fresh dose of God’s purpose for me. That is ultimately, in the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The following is what I recorded in my prayer journal shortly after that intimate encounter with the Lord.
[Lisa] Cease striving. Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Don’t feel you have to prove yourself or your worth to anyone; including Me. Especially Me! I delight in you (Psalm 18:19). I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) I will quiet you in my love and exult over you with joy. I am a victorious warrior. Dwell in the shelter I give you and in my shadow. Trust in Me. I’ve got you covered and you’ll find refuge under my wings. I’ve given you my angels to watch over you and guard you and lift you up. You just need to call upon my name and I’ll answer you, rescue you, honor you, and satisfy you (Psalm 91).
Perhaps you need to hear God’s Word to your heart today to encourage you to be all you can be in your service for the Lord—the you He created you to be. You’re the only one who can be. And hopefully after you do, you’ll be able to say along with me and the psalmist,
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content (Psalm 131:2).
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in London, Ontario, Canada.
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Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org