I wanted the perfect career, perfect marriage, perfect family, perfect house, perfect car, perfect church, perfect hobbies, perfect attitude…the perfect life. And I was willing to do whatever it took to make all of that happen. You know, “try hard…you can do it, Mark.”
So much for MY plan.
Of course perfection is elusive because it doesn’t exist—no matter how hard we try. It’s elusive because it is an illusion. I looked everywhere, and I couldn’t find it.
My futile search focused mostly on the filling my life with activities and chasing worldly goals. But it’s easy to see now that there was no way that approach was going to take me into God’s inner sanctuary. Everything I tried– vacations, retreats, hobbies, and work-work-work—always fell short. The dark side of that strategy is what Psalm 91:3 refers to as “the fowler’s snare,” the net of evil. The fowler’s snare is a bird catcher’s finely woven net, which is difficult for birds to recognize yet traps them nonetheless.
Signs of the imbalance and pain in my life did not show up while I was carrying out the activities. There was, and always is, a lag before the trouble knocks at the door. The purpose of our diversion is a respite from the pain, and it usually works at that level. It falls apart when the diversion expires and we are away from the activities that have been occupying our mind and attention. And they all expire. Always.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY TRY-HARD LIFESTYLE
My anxiety level nearly exploded like an overheating radiator when I started worrying about all of the problems and commitments associated with trying hard under my own power. Panic set in when I realized what might happen if there was a bump in the road. I crawled into bed at night exhausted and unable to sort it all out. I rolled over in a ball of sweat and missed another one of God’s hand-painted nights while waiting to hop back on life’s treadmill when the sun called for another shot at the chase.
That pretty well sums up the futility of me trying hard to find balance through diversionary activities. As the philosopher in Ecclesiastes wrote, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccles. 1:14).
Thankfully God showed me the pointlessness of playing the TRY-HARD GAME. I learned that he wanted me to view life as a never-ending journey, not a drag race. It’s clear to me now that God says our journey is never finished, and we never arrive at a point where we can say, “I made it.” That truth allows us to slow down and find balance by trying easy—even in the turmoil and trials of life.
God’s power spawned incredible blessings in my life when I “tried easy.” It was far easier for me to feel God’s balance and at peace in this mode because I was moving in the right direction, and I had accepted God’s plan as a lifelong process rather than an overnight anointing.