Will-power is not enough.
The truth of that lesson burns. I've always loved to think that if I set my mind to something and plan and write lists and line up A with B and C then all will be well. Difficulties? Ignore them and power on. Roll out the bumps like a steam-train or sail over them with the casual calmness of a catamaran.
But—why does there always have to be a 'but'?—will-power is not enough. What a curse for an over-achiever like me. It's nearly as bad as having to sleep when there is so much to do and so little time.
Will-power is not enough because will-power fails. Strength flags. The mind gets overwhelmed and emotions go awry. The unfortunate reality is that we can't do everything, no matter how much we desire to.
And I've found that when I try everything, everything comes unstuck.
The worst thing is that I neglect the things that truly matter. I pat myself on the back for my own achievements. I live in the naturalistic moment, my thoughts on the hum-drum here-and-now. I don't think about how God made everything and rules still today. I forget how much it cost Jesus to endure the penalty for our sins and how much He loved us to do so.
I read my Bible less and less. I pray quick, on-the-fly, falling-asleep prayers, skimming the surface of the troubles I need help with and offering feeble, superficial thanks for too few of the blessings I receive every day.
If there's not enough time to deal with the pressing daily things, the ones I can see, touch, feel and hear, then running to God who is spirit, unseeable with physical eyes, not a flesh and blood person standing in the same room, seems inefficient.
A five-minute devotion before bolting out the door at 6am and a few prayed sentences before my eyes collapse in sleep is the fuel I end up running on.
I recently read an article, Design for real life, about ensuring that we design digital products for real people, compassionately considering their daily difficulties.
With one simple sentence about an experiment, though sparse on the details, the authors helped me to understand why things go pear-shaped like this—why it's so easy to not think about God when busy. (They didn't put it that way, of course.) When we have to make hard decisions or think a lot we become more likely to choose cake over fruit.
Dealing with some things leaves us fewer mental resources to cope with other things still needing attention.
At this point sweet, delicious hand-crafted treats seem extra sweet and delicious because we have no room left in our brains to consider health, balance and well-being.
If our minds are consumed by all the things we have to do or the task at hand then it seems enough to get a quick, hyper-palatable snack to keep us going. (In that situation who has the time or energy to consider proper nutrition and home-cooked meals?)
Stop the snacking
So it is with seeking God. When the cares of daily life pile up we become content with cake-time Christianity. We snack on a faith that takes any delicious, ultra-tasty form we fancy; hand-crafted to suit our timetables and tastebuds.
The trouble with this is that we are missing the real deal and sooner or later we'll end up addicted to sugar, starved and in denial about what we really need. What we really need is a feast on the Bread of Life! The good news is that He is right here calling us to come to Him.
And when we turn to God first, trusting Him and refusing to let the cares of the world crowd Him out we will be made fitter and stronger, through a decent diet, to tackle the problems of life.
If we seek God's kingdom first, despite the clarion call of daily life, all other things will be given to us; we will be safe in Jesus, forgiven of our sins, secure in His love and granted peace which the world cannot ever impart.
Irenie How is young yet, by the grace of God, was saved while she was running away from Him. God showed her that He is the Lord and she wants you to know this too. After becoming a Christian she finished studying to be a graphic designer. As this she works in Christchurch, New Zealand. Check out some of her work on Behance and drop her a line; she loves chatting with new people.
Irenie How's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/irenie-how.html