When I was in elementary school, I tried learning how to knit. I always knit with such tight tension, however, that I never got past the early stages of any of my projects. Apparently I was too anxious to knit well. My stitches were so close together and pulled so tightly from my stress and my frustration that I could never get the needle in to make new stitches.
A few years ago, I learned how to knit again from on-line videos, and I had much more success. Even though I am much better at knitting now, I almost gave up on knitting again when I learned it the second time. I made so many mistakes and got so frustrated at ripping all of my work out and starting from the beginning over and over again. The pressure to complete a project without making a single error was too high for me to handle.
The way I finally learned to knit was by giving up on trying to be perfect.
I decided just to leave my mistakes in my work and keep going. I still made lots of mistakes, but I made them less and less as I began to let go and relax.
As my anxiety about knitting decreased, the tension in my hands loosened, and so did my knitting. My fingers learned how to make the stitches without thinking and knitting became a hobby that actually relaxed me.
I have come to learn that when my stitches are too tight, or continuing feels difficult, it means I’m doing something wrong.
If I feel like I’m forcing something, it’s because I am.
When I’m knitting correctly, holding the needles and forming the stitches is the most natural thing in the world for my hands, because they have been trained to do it from muscle memory without thinking. It’s when I’m trying to shove the needle into someplace where it shouldn’t go, like in between the strands of the yarn instead of in the loop I made, that things get difficult. Just like shoving a square peg into a round hole requires a sledgehammer, knitting improperly increases tension and frustration.
I’ve also found that this is true of life. Many Christians think being obedient to God is something that happens only after lots of kicking and screaming, after all the fight has gone out of us. But in my experience, God’s will is beautiful, wonderful, and perfect.
When we are in the center of God’s will, obeying Him is natural like breathing.
It feels so fluid and so free, and anything else is struggling and striving.
A lot of us accept unnecessary stress because we think we’re doing what God wants. We assume God’s way must be something we will hate. A lot of Christians have been taught that enjoying something is a sin.
That’s a lie.
The spirit of religion wants you to work for what Jesus already paid for.
A lot of Christians were taught – usually by other Christians, sadly – that God is a hard taskmaster and if you’re happy about something it means you’re doing something that you shouldn’t. Legalistic churches preach that Christianity is like a job – you’re on the clock 24/7 and you’re not allowed to be yourself. You’re not allowed to take a break. Good work ethic demands that you maintain your tight-lipped smile and “be professional” no matter what the cost.
But imagine this.
Let’s say you’re at the store with your father. You’re at the checkout and he pays for you. You can’t believe that he would really do that, though, so you insist on paying the clerk again before you leave. What are the results?
- You’ve shown your father that you don’t want to be in his debt and don’t appreciate his gift to you.
- You’ve paid the clerk for something that has already been paid for. But your having paid money you didn’t need to pay doesn’t pay your father back or restore to him what he has given up for you. It doesn’t even benefit you, either, because your purchase has been paid for. It’s just putting more money in the store’s coffers – or the clerk’s pocket – for no reason at all.
- You’ve negated your father’s attempt to have a closer relationship with you and instead made your relationship more difficult and awkward.
God already paid the price. He wants you to trust Him and relax.
Usually our stress about obeying Him is not really related to overcoming sin by the power of the blood of Jesus, but our own attempts to do what we think God wants us to using our strength and not His.
When you try to do God’s will yourself, on your own strength, without Him, it feels like knitting with your needle in the wrong place or smashing square pegs into round holes. When you know God’s will but don’t let Him do it, you will be stressed, anxious, and frustrated. But when you let go and let God, everything will fall into place naturally because He’s the one Who’s doing it.
In Zechariah 4:6, God says:
“It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit.”
In Psalm 127:2, the Bible also says it is useless for you to wake up early and work hard all day long because God gives rest to those He loves. The author of that psalm was Solomon. What is Solomon usually known for? Wisdom and wealth. But did he work to get it? No. It was handed to him – directly from God.
God wants us to rest in Him.
He wants to do the heavy lifting. He delights in seeing how we trust Him when we stop trying to do the things that only He can do.
God’s timing is always perfect.
Sometimes we don’t like God’s ways and we don’t like His timing. Sometimes we want what He’s promised now or want Him to work in accordance with our plans or other expectations. But God is God – He is the only thing in existence that can be its own definition. God is God; God defines Himself by Who He is, and He will not be limited by our tunnel vision or short-sighted understanding.
God knits things together perfectly and knows exactly what He’s doing. He is never late and His will and His timing are always absolutely perfect.
When we try to force God’s will and make things happen on our own, we end up with Ishmaels.
You can see how this unfolds in Genesis 15-17. Abraham received a promise from the Lord but he got tired of waiting. He and Sarah began to give up hope that God knew the perfect timing. They tried to make God’s promise happen on their own strength, in their own ways. They created Ishmael, and to this day the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac have great difficulty co-existing.
God has a perfect will for you. He doesn’t want you to struggle and to strive. He wants you to rest and trust Him. He will make the Isaac at the proper time. God always knits with perfect tension.
Join the Discussion
Have you ever tried to force something instead of letting God take care of it? What was the result? Share your answers in the comments!