I don’t know about you, but it certainly seems that I have the same lesson to learn over and over again. It’s not that I’m necessarily dense, but I am not always wise. I get excited about doing things, even things for the Lord. And in that excitement, I tend to overextend myself and to over-commit. While “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) I realized (again and for the umpteenth time) in my Bible study yesterday, He doesn’t call me to do “all” things. Before I raise my hand and say, “yes, I will do that”, I must first prayerfully consider if (1) it is what the Lord wants me to do, or (2) if it is wise to put that on my plate in light of other work I already have.
The message I received in prayer yesterday is that when I overextend myself (not at His urging), the “work” I am doing is left on my own power. I get overwhelmed. And it is at those times that I stop looking first to the needs of others and become selfish. I get tired, overwhelmed, and cranky. I set myself up for failure (see Have You Failed?) Just as I was writing this, I realized THIS is a foothold I’ve left wide open for the devil. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The Lord doesn’t want us to make our own plans and say “yes” to all opportunities that present themselves to us, even if it is His work. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Prov. 16:9) The Lord wants me to succeed in what He wants me to do. Before I am tempted to raise my hand, I must ask Him if these are steps I should take. I need His counsel and His wisdom. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5) And I need to not lean on my own understanding. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
If I will finally learn this lesson, I won’t leave the devil a foothold. And I will be walking in the Lord’s power and not my own. THEN I will be able to: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col. 3:12)