Our friend Amy Guerino recently wrote a thoughtful blogpost that really spoke to me. I asked her permission to share it with you here.
The Pressure to Accomplish Snuffs Out the Pleasure of Being God's Child
Peasant Woman Threading a Needle by Jules Breton
“To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle.”
~ Walker Percy in Lancelot
In his book Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation Kenneth Boa explains, “For many people, life has become so filled with if-only of the future that today becomes an inconvenient obstacle in the path of reaching tomorrow…We have a natural tendency to invest our energies in goals and accomplishments we hope to achieve in the days ahead. The problem is that even when we are able to attain these ends, we are already thinking of the next one. Thus, by moving from one product to product, we are rarely alive to the realities of the present.”
Our secular world puts value on accomplishments. These achievements define who you are. Boa says, “In our society, we increasingly tend to be human doings rather than human beings.”
As a follower of Christ my identity and significance are rooted in who I am in Him, a state of being, not doing (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a result of who I am in Christ, I will do things out of gratitude and love for my Lord.
The world’s grid or standard to judge a person’s value often dislodges the biblical one in my head. This is where I begin to set goals that will achieve a certain end or product. If I can lead or even attend a woman’s Bible study for so many weeks, or make it through the summer by continuing some basic education goals with my children, or teach them some life skills (cooking, cleaning, balancing a checkbook, etc.), then I’m an accomplished and mature Christian woman at this stage in my life. I’m judging my growth in Christ by the products I think I should produce.
Even if I attain the desired goals I will be consumed with planning the next achievement. Boa said, “Thus by moving from product to product, we are rarely alive to the realities of the present.”
There is an increased discontentment about the present. I’m beginning to understand this product driven spirituality is at the root of it. I don’t allow myself to step back and rejoice in things like: the school year’s accomplishments or my daughter’s recent baptism (done by my hubby). I’m so busy looking at the future’s nearest hurdles. It is a treadmill that I want to get off of because I’m exhausted and I’m getting no where!
Boa writes, “From a biblical perspective, our fundamental choice should be to know and become like the Lord Jesus. This choice is compatible with living in the present, the only point at which time intersects eternity. This aspiration animates our present, makes us alive to the process of daily experience, and informs our planning.”
My heart has cried out in pray for some time now, “How do I do this? How do I stop the focus of attaining a product so that I might enjoy more of a daily process?” God’s answer to my heart has come with a reminder and a new application.
Our deepest need as people was created by God to know and enjoy Him, Our Creator. The process to come to know and enjoy the Creator is a journey.
This journey is why I love the Hinds' Feet on High Places book. I relate to Much-Afraid’s adventures in every chapter. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim's Progress is another good book (my next read) encouraged by Ken Boa. He writes, “To follow Christ is to move into territory that is unknown to us and to count on his purposeful guidance…It is to learn to respond to God’s providential care in deepening ways and to accept the pilgrim character of earthly existence with its uncertainties, setbacks, disappointments, surprises, and joys. It is to remember that we are in a process of gradual conformity to the image of Christ so that we can love and serve others along the way.”
Amy Guerino, http://beautifuldescent.blogspot.com/2010/06/pressure-to-accomplish-snuffs-out.html
Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.