After years of searching for the key to peaceful, victorious living, a couple months ago I discovered something that changed my life. It not only calms my anxiety, it frees and energizes me to move forward with confidence.
When I say discovered, what I really mean is, it finally sunk in how something I knew in my head could be practically applied in real life.
In my July post I said I was going to try practicing John 15:5b where Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” In context, I saw this meant that I couldn’t produce the fruit of the Spirit, including peace and joy, on my own. I needed God’s help. So, as an exercise, I decided to take this verse literally and acknowledge that “I can do nothing without Jesus.” With this attitude, I went through my days asking God to help me with everything I did—even brushing my teeth. The initial results surprised and encouraged me, so I decided to keep doing it.
After practicing this for two months, it feels like I’ve finally figured out how to consistently apply the tandem bike illustration—with God in the front, steering and pedaling while I sit on the back seat enjoying the ride.
This “I can do nothing without Jesus” attitude has been the key for me to let go and rely on God, to let him take the wheel.
In the process of doing this exercise, I discovered that I put a lot of responsibility and high expectations on myself—in both performance and relationships—and this responsibility weighs me down. But when I say “Okay God, you’re in charge,” the weight of responsibility lifts. My hunched shoulders straighten and my gaze rises from the floor. The knot in my stomach loosens. The dark force that keeps me from moving forward disappears and the room brightens. Suddenly I feel hopeful, because with God all sorts of good things are possible.
With God in the lead, my job is to listen. Since I started this exercise, I’ve been doing a lot more listening. “What do you want me to do next, Jesus? This, or that, or something else?”
Sometimes God answers by giving me an impression—either all clear to go, or a negative feeling to stop and do something else. Sometimes, if I’m really listening, a new idea outside my main line of thinking might gently pop into my head. Not an order. Not required. But I know to take it seriously because it’s probably God’s best for me.
After I get direction, my job is to do what I feel God is leading me to do, still listening and asking for his help. Because “I can do nothing without Jesus.”
Of course, I know I can do things on my own, but why would I want to? My lightened heart and quenched anxiety are good enough reasons to put God in the lead. But on top of that, the optimism and surge of energy I get makes me feel like I’m really living.
The apostle Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10b). By taking the attitude “I can do nothing without Jesus,” I’m finally learning how to “be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power,” (Ephesians 6:10, emphasis added). And it feels amazing.
Photos courtesy of crestock.com