Written by David Glenn
Humans are professionals at holding tightly to the wrong things.
People stubbornly hold onto their own ideas of good, and then pursue those ideas single-mindedly. You know those people. If you are like me, maybe you are one of those people. We’ve struggled with grasping at the wrong things since the beginning.
In Genesis 2 and 3, the word “took” is used eight times. Six of those times, “took” referred to God’s action of unselfish creating and giving, such as when God “took” man and put him in the garden (Genesis 2:15), or when he “took” a rib from Adam to make Eve (Genesis 2:21).
The first time man “took” was when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, which led to death (Genesis 3:6). “Took” was used again to describe man’s actions at the end of Genesis 3. God set up the angel with the flaming sword to guard the way to the garden, just in case man “took” from the tree of life and prolonged his misery forever (Genesis 3:22).
I see this narrative play out in my life every day. Instead of allowing God to “take” for me, I grab for myself. I clench my fists and prioritize too highly the things that I think are good: grades, relationships, reputation, money, opinions.
When we turn our backs on God and live “taking,” we worry, stress and grunt our way to the idols that we think we need. Sometimes it works, but most of the time we are left hurting with the consequences of our insufficiencies. Our peace is left in pieces, and our hands are clenching the wind.
So, what is the next step? If I cannot trust myself to know and pursue good for myself, where do I turn?
This is what Paul prescribes:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross…” Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB).
Now, take a look at what Jesus has to say:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6:33-34 (NASB).
Rest in God’s promises. Explore His word, discover His will and surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit daily. Live each moment asking Him how you fit into His plan instead of blindly pursuing your own. Then, do what He calls you to do. He is the one “who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” Philippians 2:13 (NASB).
As you proceed through this fall semester, lean hard on Him. Open your clenched fists and offer Him your anxieties and worries, sins and awkward blunders, the pressure to be perfect in your own strength and every weakness you discover in yourself. You are written on His hand (Isaiah 49:16). Your needs are His priority. In His presence, there is righteousness, healing, peace and strength enough for you. Make knowing Him your priority.
“So choose life in order that you may live…by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him, for this is your life and the length of your days” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NASB).