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When We Take On Too Much and Do Too Little

“God won’t give me more than I can handle”… “Oh yes He will.”

I remember when this phrase naively came off my lips years ago talking to my senior pastor early in my college years about recent events and he forever changed those words and helped me unlearn a misunderstanding about God.

This seems to be a phrase passed around to tell each other “you can do it, you can make it through this – you are strong.” You. You. You. (Or we just say it because it’s been said to us.)

We are limited, finite people and when we get ensnared in the enemy’s falsehood that we are self-sufficient and self-sustaining we live as if we are all we need and do what we want to do. This autonomous mentality robs us of knowing the Sufficient One and His intended way of life. Our self-sustaining efforts hinder us from truly breathing life with gratitude and acknowledgment for the One who sustains us. Our heart is deceiving, not trustworthy (Jeremiah 17:9) and bent towards selfish ways that will not bring good, rather harm to ourselves and others. When we are given over to our own ways and thinking we tend to make a mess of things and not make them better (Romans 1:21-32) although the world tells you otherwise.

When we get ensnared in the enemy’s falsehood that we are self-sufficient and self-sustaining we live as if we are all we need and do what we want to do.

The very thing or circumstance that makes you feel weak and inadequate is a strengthening tool in God’s hand to grow your dependence on Him who has the power to make dead things alive. His power in our shortcomings strengthens our faith and fuels our hope for perseverance and obedience. Paul got it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 in which he ends with “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We are to be a people relying on Him, not on ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). When we believe, look to, and place all that we are on the One who has the power to make dead things live the result is we are filled “with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear or uncertainty? Are you anxious and overwhelmed with circumstances or worries? These concerns of life are inclined to consume and freeze our steps, actions, and decisions. The enemy loves seeing followers of Jesus inactive and immobilized because of taking on concerns beyond what we are intended to, in contrast to living out faithful biblical discipleship. I love these words of the David in Psalm 131 because I have a tendency to concern my heart and mind with things that are beyond my control.

Our self-sustaining efforts hinder us from truly breathing life with gratitude and acknowledgment for the One who sustains us.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up proud; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever more.” (Psalm 131)

Which leads to the questioning of who is to handle what in our lives? What is my role and what is God’s? What is my responsibility and what is God’s? In his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul Tripp helps discern the difference by helping us differentiate between our concerns and our responsibilities.  We have CONCERNS that are out of our control that we are to ENTRUST to God. We also have RESPONSIBILITIES that God has given and asked of us that we need to FAITHFULLY OBEY. But we often confuse one for the other. This leads to taking on what we are to entrust, exhausting ourselves with effort, concern, worry, and feeling discouraged. We then, are likely to neglect the very things He has asked us to be obedient in, unfaithful to our calling as His disciples.

We have concerns that are out of our control that we are to entrust to God. We also have responsibilities that God has given and asked of us that we need to faithfully obey.

Because we are inclined to be controlling fixers and want to give the responsibility God has given to us back to Him, we end up taking on too much and doing too little. When I have much on mind – things I’m worried about, nervous and anxious about and uncertain how to move forward – my heart and mind get overwhelmed. I have found the following tools helpful to discern what concerns to entrust and what my responsibilities are to faithfully obey.

Ask

Start by asking the Lord to examine your heart to expose what things you are holding onto for control (concern) that you need to hand over to Him (entrust). Also examine what things you are called to be and do (responsibility) that you need to pursue, take action on, and make a decision (faithfully obey).

Identify

Then use whatever way you process best to identify them. I am visual, I love writing to process, and I love making lists. So I write out all that’s on my heart and mind that the Lord has helped me identify. If you are a verbal processor, talk through them with someone. From what you’ve been able to identify, which are concerns versus responsibilities?

Because we are inclined to be controlling fixers and want to give the responsibility God has given to us back to Him, we end up taking on too much and doing too little.

Pray

Once you’ve identified those, pray through them and ask the Lord to help you hand over and entrust to Him the issues you need to and ask Him to help you faithfully act upon what you need to.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

We are an anxious people. The things we are anxious about often reveal the idols of our hearts – what we’re terrified of losing or desperately trying to get. Both which are out of our control. Glance at your heart, gaze at Jesus, and trust and obey the Lord.

 

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Ashley Brannan

About

Ashley delights in the Word of God and is passionate about seeing others sink deeply in the truths of scripture for true life change, freedom, healing, reconciliation, fulfillment, purpose, and significance found in Jesus alone. She loves being a part of the church body at The Well Community Church, being a disciple of Jesus and making disciples. She works in the everyday work force, desiring to redeem work and culture with the hope of the Gospel. As an internal processor she loves being out in nature, reading, journaling, instrumental music, all things Fall and clear mug conversations.


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