Not I: a daily diagram for how in the world to navigate this crazy life

“…I do nothing on my own, but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me – He has not deserted me…”
John 8:28-29

I read these words and they flew up against a hard bent within me. The always-trying-to-be-enough bent that drives me to over-achieve and prove myself and never disappoint and never need help and never fall short.

But here it is from his own mouth. The One who calls me to follow his example in all things did NOTHING on his own.

That whole passage instructing us to stay in step with him, abide in him, draw from his strength, LET HIM produce his life in us instead of trying to conjure up the willpower to be good? He lived it before he asked us to follow.

This crazy life where he faced hunger and insult, homelessness and heartache, betrayal and abandonment, loss and enormous pressure to compromise, weariness and stress. He didn’t do any of it on his own. He spoke the words he was given and walked where he was led and received everything from his Father. And it was a day in, day out diagram for how in the world we are supposed do this life.


He does not want me to try it by myself.

He wants me to ask my Father for what I need. To call on my Savior for strength to take on each thing, big or small. To lean hard on his Spirit for the wisdom and guidance for each choice, as enormous or inconsequential as it may seem.

In big steps, tense discussions, inflammatory situations, choking grief, huge risks, daunting unknowns where I have no idea how to move forward. And also in just the challenging, stressful days where a crammed schedule and not enough sleep make me fear that I will give in to my irritable, selfish, harsh flesh.

May I not live in fear of the damage I might do or the damage I may sustain, but may I step forward in confidence that He is with me, giving me everything I need to face what this day holds, and He has not asked me to know all the answers or to handle one single part of it on my own.

I need to remember. I need to remember because when I feel like I’ve lost my bearings, I hang on tight. I cling to my ideas, my ways of doing things, my expectations of timing.

Ugh.

Those are the wrong things to cling to.

Lord, help me cling to you. When I feel a wave of confusion or frustration, may I reach for Jesus rather than trying to rally in my own strength.

You are enough. I don’t have to be enough for this or for what’s next or for anyone else because here you are with me, just as your Father was with you, never deserting or abandoning you.

You are enough for this. You are enough for me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

“…It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“God has said, “I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.”

So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper,
    so I will have no fear.
    What can mere people do to me?”


Hebrews 13:5-6

Approved Of: on how much is enough

“…After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing?…Abraham believed God and God counted him righteous because of his faith.”

Galatians 3:3, 6

Moving brings out the Pharisee in me. I have not figured out how I fit into this new place yet, I am building first impressions, and so I throw myself into things, desperate to prove myself, even when there’s nothing to prove.

I’m on edge in every conversation. I anxiously look around and compare every detail to see if I’m keeping up, measuring up, meeting expectations. I want to impress, but I’m not impressive and it’s hard to ask a whole new group of people to extend the grace I need.

Righteous isn’t a word I use a whole lot in my every-day English, so I looked up the Greek word used for “righteous” in this verse in Galatians to try to get a better sense of its meaning. The definition I found hit home: “approved of.”

How I long to be approved of.

I echo the crowd who asked Jesus for an assignment:

“We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” (John 6:28)

I need His answer just as much as they did:

 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29 )

Always, always it comes back to this: I am counted righteous only and ever because I put my trust in Jesus Christ. I am approved of because, like Abraham, I believe God’s words. It is never because of my work or effort or performance, diligent as they may be.

So easily my eyes shift to what I’ve invested, how hard I’ve worked. Always I am asking, “Is it enough? Can I rest yet?”

Always He answers, “I am enough. You can rest in that.”

So much pressure I carry around to accomplish something big and important because I represent the Lord. But I forget that it is HE who chooses to represent me.

Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

(Romans 8:33-34)

I have a Savior who has finished the work of placing me in good standing. And He does not require me to improve on what He has accomplished. I am approved of in Him.

I read these words from Emily P. Freeman’s book Simply Tuesday this week and they caught within me:

“…stand on tiptoe and see…beyond what is to what could be.

And this doesn’t mean I am to dream big and amazing things for God. Rather, it means I am to believe in a big and amazing God, period. I can trust him to be himself even as I dare to be myself.

He is big and important and able and so I do not have to carry the pressure of making sure his plans go off without a hitch, or ensuring that I become all I am meant to be. I am all I am meant to be in Him, and it is enough to just follow.

Lord-

Take my worries. Help me to leave them in your hands awhile.

Help me choose to just to believe you, and then do whatever the next thing is out of freedom, not out of fear. That is the work you ask of me.

Teach me to savor and hold on tight to the assurance that you approve of me. You call me righteous; not lacking, not disappointing, not inadequate, not a failure.

I need not make an idol of my issues by giving all my attention to them. They present no obstacle to you.

It does not honor you to strive tirelessly. It only shows I do not believe your words.

Lord, teach me what it is to be still and believe in a God who does not need my help and yet invites me on a journey to see what He can do through one willing to take him at his word.

Show me how to walk into this new season with the confidence of one who has been approved of, able to extend and accept grace, at ease with myself and with others, and leaving behind the tireless question of whether I have done enough.

Because your work is enough, and I can rest in that.