Excuse my mess as I try to present God’s work in me.
I read a couple of books last summer which have had a major impact on my life. Largely because they challenged my thinking about driven-ness.
Firstly The Spiritual Man – Watchman Nee, admittedly I didn’t finish this book. (In fact I barely got half way.) Watchman Nee as far as I know, is a 20th Century Chinese Theologian, and therefore does not have an extremely westernized version of Christianity. He points out (in the first half of the book) that a lot of what we do – we do out of the “flesh”, rather than the Spirit. Basically a large part of the message to the Galatians. And that when we do good works and “kill sin” from the strength of the flesh, it can easily lead to pride rather than sanctification. (Or at least that’s how I understood it, like I said still have to read the other half…and I want to do it with someone else).
Secondly, was a Gordon MacDonald book: Ordering your private world. MacDonald has yet to write a book which hasn’t been helpful for me in terms of understanding the state of my heart. In the first section of this book MacDonald points out the difference between a life which is “called” and a life which is “driven”. According to him a driven person is one who works really hard in order to feel called, and a called person is one who knows with confidence that they are called by God (loved, accepted…) and their work flows from that. And as I read the descriptions, I realized that my life definitely rode on the driven tracks!
Therefore I began a process of stripping away some of the unhealthy driving forces in my life: desire for recognition, affirmation, success, appearance of holiness, security. All things which in their proper place probably aren’t too bad but when they become the driving force behind your actions, any progress doesn’t lead to God’s glory but yours. This was a surprisingly painful thing to do, and I’m not convinced I am on the other side. I still spot new reasons why I seem to need recognition and approval, and have to pray about them, soak the lies in the truth of scripture, and ask for help from friends.
(As far as possible, I have been trying to do all this “in the Spirit”, rather than in my own strength. I am learning that this is much more about the posture of my heart than effort, (but it would probably help if I finished Watchman’s book).)
Trying to keep this blog post readable and short-to-the-point is a challenge. It has been almost a year long process, with many different roads of thought contributing to the discussion in my mind..So, long story short, where am I now?
As I stripped away the driving forces in my life, I became more and more aware that I wasn’t replacing them with anything. But what was there? My mind told me that I should be driven by a desire for God’s glory, let my life be driven to lift Him high – anything else seemed to fall short. But in my sinfulness, I couldn’t muster the level of driven-ness for God’s glory as I had for my own…
And so a lot of things stopped still including, frequent workouts, my reading of a book a week, my early mornings, even my punctuality and attendance at uni. I became a disorganized person (ironic given that one of the books was: “ordering your private world”). Maybe my private world is more ordered now, and its a matter of bringing my outside in order again – this time with a healthy motive. I am unsure. Maybe I need to have a greater glimpse of His beauty…