I just want to win. Really. Most days that’s all I’m asking for – to get through without lust or jealousy or coveting creeping in, or bitterness toward someone who hurt me, or guilt over how I’ve hurt someone else.
Just one day without labels undermining my confidence in who God says I am; without anger welling up or judgmentalism sneaking in; without acting on impulses that leave me feeling dirty and unforgivable.
To lay my head on the pillow and not lament like David “[O God] …my sin is always before me…” (Psalm 51:3).
That’s all I want. But I rarely get it. And it sucks, to use a less-than-upright-Christian vernacular. To want so badly to please God, only to find you’ve fallen on your face again…it can be so demoralizing. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
This is the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit (see Galatians 5:17). Life is lived on a battlefield.
But here’s the deal: winning isn’t the point! That’s right – getting to the end of our day with our good deeds outweighing our bad deeds shouldn’t be our focus in the first place.
That’s tough to get our heads around, isn’t it? Every part of us screams “Of course winning is the point! Where would we be without winning?!?”
Truth: we are in the exact same place without winning as we are with winning. No matter what our score sheet looks like at the end of the day, we are still under the watchful care of an almighty God who loves us regardless.
The real goal is living in His presence and in His will. Enjoying the journey with Him at our side instead of fretting over whether we’re doing well enough to have Him at our side. His presence is not contingent upon our performance. And when we get that, the battles throughout the day are far less intimidating.
This doesn’t mean we raise the white flag and accept the loss. It doesn’t mean that whatever we may do, no matter how right or wrong, is okay. When we spend our days enjoying the journey with Him, we discover a desire to please Him…but without the anxiety of worrying whether we’re doing it right. No longer are we fighting against the negatives. We’re basking in the positives – love, grace, and the simple unchangeable fact that Someone far bigger than me believes in me unconditionally.
And then when we get to the end of our day, we realize that we did win after all! The stuff that wanted to drag us down didn’t gain a foothold nearly as easily. And when it did, we were able to get back up and walk on.
We don’t end the day with a perfect score. We still make poor choices along the way. But those poor choices, we find, are far less frequent and have less impact.
This is the freedom of focusing on our Companion rather than on our adversaries; focusing on His love rather than our faults. It’s resting in Christ instead of striving to win in our own strength.
And in the end, that’s the best win of all!