A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Do you ever catch yourself trying too hard? I caught myself doing that a couple of times last week. It is a very interesting phenomenon. I'm not 100% sure what happens, but somehow a situation or a setting bumps up against my insecurity and the next thing I know I'm either trying to be someone I'm not, or trying to be who I am on steroids--both of which are not a pretty sight. And I'm not even sure most of the time whether the people I'm with can actually sense it or not, but I sure can. There is a neediness deep within me that rises to the surface and is impossible to deny or escape. A neediness that gives me one of two options: face it down and turn to God with it, or go with it and turn away to my own efforts, patterns, or devices. It definitely makes the words "In returning and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength. But you would have none of it" come to mind, and to life. It is only in turning--or returning--to God in the midst of the insecurity that I am able to face it, and turn away from it, back toward God. Unfortunately, the couple of times I'm thinking about from last week didn't turn out quite like I would've hoped.
Which brings me to Isaiah 40:1-5...my reading for the day. It is a passage about preparing the way for the entry of our God. It is a passage filled with all kinds of construction and demolition that apparently are necessary parts of the preparation; removing the obstacles so that the King may arrive among us...and within us. There are valleys, low places, that must be raised up. There are high places that must be made low. There is rough ground that must be smoothed out. And there are rugged places that must become a plain, or garden. And as I think about my trying too hard, I realize that there is much work to be done in me this season as I prepare for the arrival of the King of Kings. The good news is that it is not all up to me. I am not left to face it on my own. It does not all depend on my efforts and my strength as I recognize what a mess I am inside. It is God's work, He will do the work in me. He will free me of the compulsion of trying too hard...to make an impression, or win friends, or be "the man," or whatever I might be trying too hard at the moment to achieve. In the midst of the trying too hard somehow, once again, I've forgotten the truth that me can never be created or achieved, it must be received (see this). So trying too hard is not just unfruitful, but also unnecessary. Mine is just to watch and wait, to pay attention, to recognize his voice and his Spirit, and allow Him to do the work in me. Mine is just, in the words of a saint of old, to be who I is.