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Gritting your teeth?

Albert Einstein was known for his amazing mind. Do you know he published over 300 scientific papers, had his PhD by the age of 30, and actually won the Nobel Prize in physics at the age of 42? As accomplished as he was in his field of study, do you know one of the most memorable things he said is repeated time and time again, maybe not verbatim, but pretty doggone close. "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Do you know how many mistakes a scientist has to make before he finds the proof of his theory? Too many to count! Do you know how many mistakes I have made along the way, attempting to live out this Christian walk with grace and stamina? Too many to count! How about you? Too many to count? 

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. (Colossians 1:9-12)

Most of the 'successes' I have known in life are not really mine - they are because God has worked through me to bring about that success. I have tried that 'gritting my teeth' kind of endurance and I am here to tell you it doesn't really work all that well. If you want the truth, every moment of gritting my teeth, trying to hold up under the pressure of the crisis at hand was compounded by my stubbornness in being unwilling to let go of my 'grim strength'. When I finally let go of what I was clearly making a whole lot of mistakes with it was amazing to see how God brought new light, helping me to actually see things I had been missing all the while. It is kind of like the scientist that knows they are onto something pretty close to the solution, but they cannot seem to find that one final piece. 

I know that anytime God asks me to do 'something new', I don't always do very well with it - how about you? Do you just immediately get up, do as he instructs, and see immediate success? If you are in the company with a great many of us, the answer to that one is likely that you didn't do very well with those instructions. You and I are not dissimilar in our taking on 'new things' and 'new truths' as God would have us do, but we also probably don't all 'take them on' in quite the same manner. We do and see things differently, so we get different results from the same truth. How is that possible? If you have ever tried to follow a pattern to crochet something, you may have realized your 'work' doesn't quite resemble the one in the picture. Why? You aren't the creator of the pattern - you are just trying hard to follow it stitch by stitch!

God is the creator of the pattern we call 'life' - we go about each day attempting to follow the instructions laid out in that 'pattern', hopefully seeing something remotely resembling the pattern emerge in the end! Don't miss the truth in this passage - we don't follow the pattern in our own 'grim strength of gritting our teeth' to get it done. We only come close to the pattern when we allow the creator of the pattern direct the 'stitching' of our day's work all together. We can go on trying to get it done in our own strength, or we can let go of the obviously inferior strength we have been putting into it and let God's strength come through. I guess making the mistake of doing it in my own strength way too many times has taught me there is really a whole lot more enjoyment in getting it done in his! Just sayin!

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