Have you ever been encouraged to make sure all your ducks are in a row before making a big decision? It’s likely you have. But let’s be honest with ourselves. We’ll be waiting a lifetime for those ducks to align just right. That’s because we have defined what makes the timing and conditions perfect. We have constructed a set of regulations and borders that tell us when we can or cannot make these plans and decisions.

Have you ever stopped to consider what makes God’s conditions perfect? Is it the funding in your bank account? Is it a personal standard of perfection or near-perfection that you place upon yourself? Is it when you’ve reached a certain age or socially constructed milestone? Is it when you’ve reached a certain point in your recovery process? Is it the certification or degree on your wall that says you’re competent to make a difference in society? Is it the job promotion? The list goes on. So often we make a plan for our lives that doesn’t revolve around God’s will for our lives. It’s easy to get caught up in what the world demands of us. After all, we’re all trying to survive this thing called ‘life’ and not get hurt, right? We are expected to be on our A-game most of the time and go-go-go. Keep achieving but be sure to keep up. Don’t show our weaknesses or this could lead to rejection. Make sure we’ve got it all together before we take a risk. Control or be controlled. Win at all costs or lose everything.

Ask yourself what you are striving after. Perhaps you have found yourself running a race that keeps repositioning the finish line. Maybe you have reached your destination and find yourself unfulfilled with the outcome, tempting you to find a new destination and start the process all over again. Many of us may simply be exhausted from the pressure of building and maintaining reputations that come with consistent high expectations (i.e., being the perfect parent, climbing the corporate ladder, etc.)

Now ask yourself why you are striving after what you are. What do you gain from it? Are you investing your precious energy and resources into the game of life or are you investing in God’s will for you?

Ecclesiastes paints a picture of this struggle very well. The point is we spend so much time keeping ourselves busy with things that distract us from nourishing our relationship with our Creator, and we miss the joy of living. Our self-sufficient efforts to make a name for ourselves, prove our worth, impress or please others, and/or find our place in this world can lead to many maladaptive behaviors and a hardened heart. The “fear of missing out” robs us of quiet contentment. We sacrifice numerous moments of true peace when our focus is on worldly pursuits (1 Timothy 6:7-10, Luke 12:15, Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:24, Proverbs 17:1, Proverbs 23:4-5, Ecclesiastes 4:6, Proverbs 16:16-17).

There’s nothing wrong with having goals or making plans in life. But the foundation of these goals and plans is the most important piece to consider. Our primary goal in life should be to fear God and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Matthew 6:33). The reality is that life will demand things of us, but our identity, our hope, and our joy is not to be rooted in what this life can offer us (Philippians 3:7-8, 12-14), as it all eventually fades away when our time comes to leave this earth (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Rest is available to you. You don’t have to strive so hard to achieve what you are really looking for deep down. Peel back the layers and discover the roots of your pursuits. You might just find that the thing you’ve been searching for has been there the whole time.

My prayer for you this month:

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30