seeking vs. striving

Mindy Larsen tulips

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4

Over the past couple months I have been striving.  Striving to get more done, striving to get more followers on Instagram, striving to build a following, to figure out how to master this world of being a writer, and press myself forward into the calling the Lord has placed on my life.  It started out exciting; setting new goals, making changes, sitting in front of the computer with anticipation and ready fingers.  But the more I attempted, it felt as if I was pulling a weight behind me.  Straining to step forward, exhausted from the struggle, I started to recognize that perhaps this isn’t what the Lord wants for me right now.  That perhaps instead of striving, He wants me to loosen my grip on my goals and soak up what life has for me right here, right now. 

This is a really hard lesson to learn.  So much in the world of social media makes me feel like everyone is doing all the things right now.  Everyone else has already written their book(s), gained a following, and so I should too!  The last thing I want is to fall behind or even worse, miss my window of opportunity.  Even as I write those words, I’m realizing that’s exactly what it is.  I feel like God is writing a book on my heart, one I want to share with the world, and I am afraid that if I don’t do it now, right this instant, I will have missed my window. 

But what He’s teaching me, is that is 100% untrue.  The world might be proclaiming now, do it now, but I know that even if it’s later, or much, much later, God’s timing is perfect.  “What if I trusted that there would be more time down the road, that if that book has to be read or that party has to be thrown or that race has to be run or that trip has to be taken, there will be time to take it/do it/read it/write it later?  Later.  Later.”  These words from Shauna Niequist’s book Present over Perfect, are the wise, God-breathed words that I needed to hear and ones I need to write on my heart. 

So, if now isn’t the time for striving, then what is it time for?  How should I redirect my focus?  Hearing Psalm 27:4 in church on Sunday, I got my answer.  “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”  The words that struck me with gentle correction were, this only do I seek…to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple.  The keyword I heard was only.  I’ve been so absorbed in pushing my calling forward, that I’ve yet again changed my focus from the One who gave me that calling.  This is a lesson that changed my life years ago, and one that I continue to learn over and over again; that above all else, my job is to seek Him.  I love how the author, David, doesn’t just say, see the Lord, watch Him or look at Him.  He says seek Him; meaning it requires some effort on my part.  It is my job to intentionally pursue the Lord and gaze upon the beauty that He has for me.  

This verse is the anthem I’m proclaiming over my summer; I’m changing my focus from striving for my goals to seeking His goodness and His beauty right in front of me.  I know that His timing is perfect, that with Him there is no such thing as a missed opportunity, now I just need to trust Him expectantly.    

Making this adjustment in my focus is not going to be easy, but I’m excited about it.  It’s freeing to throw off the weights of striving and to step into the truth that if He’s calling me to it, He will bring me through it, even if it’s later than I thought. 

Our lives are short.  We don’t know which breath will be our last; we must live with a sense of urgency.  But, not everything needs to be done now – the only thing that we must rush is to seek Him.  Everything else can wait.