When I accepted His invitation for salvation I was immediately given a mandatory Christian “to do” list. Being a striver it was easy to get right in the thick of it, living to fulfill the requirements, until He showed me a different way.
Sometimes the old stuff creeps back in to taunt me. Before I know it my mind is captured in a battle. Why am I not doing what I should be doing? I feel like a bad little girl who ought to know better.
I haven’t journaled in over a week. I’ve not had a “quiet time”. I’ve not even prayed much. I’ve just not had many words. Maybe it’s part of grief, maybe it’s exhaustion from not sleeping well, I don’t know. Regardless something wants to tell me I’ve blown it. I should feel guilty. I wondered what Jesus would say. The dialogue began.
“Jesus, I know you are not unhappy with me because you don’t base your love on my performance. But sometimes it still feels like I’ve disappointed you with my lack of activity.”
“Jewel, It’s OK that you don’t come every day.” “I know that you love me.” “I don’t grade your love based on your performance.” “I see into your heart.” “I know what’s there.”
“I know it’s the “shoulds”... "I should be doing more.”
“Jewel I came and took away the shoulds because the shoulds just leave things empty.” “They are not from the heart.”
“I just love you, Jewel, that’s all, because you are mine.” “I know you love me.” “I’m OK with you just being with me.” “You don’t have to say anything. You don’t even have to read about me. It’s OK for you to just dwell here with me.” “There’s nothing to prove.”
“Respond when I call.” “I know you will.” “Yes, sometimes the distractions capture your attention but that does not diminish your love for me.” “Your life belongs to me, Jewel, I know that.” “It’s a comfortable love.”
“What is asked of me?”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” “Live in love, Jewel.” “Respond to love.”
It’s all such a far cry from where I started. I could have put Martha to shame. My life was lived on my own, working out all my salvation, trying to be a good girl for God. But it was a yoke that shackled me. I became a performance driven, “should” woman. Life was about me living the requirements.
In that place that he says “be still and know I am God, my efforts and striving, the shoulds, cease. He becomes God. He invites me into the places He desires me to be with Him. He gives me a chance to respond to His invitation. The shoulds are laid to rest.
I know it’s true. He burns within my soul. I always know when He is inviting me to pray for someone, my heart aches for them. When He’s drawing me to His Word, it beckons me. When I need to journal or just sit, my body longs for it.
In His gentleness He reminds me that it is up to Him in me. He asks that I listen and follow where He invites me to be.
“Don’t live in the shoulds, Jewel.” “I am not in the shoulds”. “That is the law.” “I abolished the law.” “You are free to live in Me.” “I will do all through you.” “I am the life in you.” “I am the invitation.” “Respond to My invitation.” “Don’t do unless I invite you to do.” “You will know.” “When I give you rest, rest, dear one.” “It’s my gift to you.” “You have nothing to prove.” “I know you love Me.”
Being still means entering rest. Not just rest from a busy life, but rest from the striving and shoulds. In that place life becomes about Him in me. He is the work. I am His workmanship, not my own. He is the life, He is the breath.
This complicated life I have lived is no longer what He asks of me. It’s quite simple, really, lay the “shoulds” to rest for Jesus abolished them. Love the Lord your God by responding to His love.
Today as I once again lay my shoulds down I breathe in the very breath of God while enfolded in His embrace. He knows how much I love Him for He has read my heart.
©copyrighted: 2009 Julie L. Todd