William Shakespeare's monologue, 'As You Like It' begins with the phrase, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
Sometimes, life actually feels like one big theatrical production in which you have the starring role. Each morning, you wake up, and the world immediately screams, "Lights, Camera, Action!" Then the daily performance begins. We are expected to perform on our jobs with demanding schedules and expectations to meet. Some of you have wifely and motherly duties. Expectations from friends. If you're active in church and ministry, then you have an additional area in which you have more expectations to meet. So many roles with so many hats to wear.
We have to be so many things, for so many people. And we try daily to make sure we are meeting, or at least trying to meet, what everyone is expecting of us. And we do this day after day, after day until this performance becomes routine. And monotony of this repeated performance can be pretty overwhelming. Even tiresome.
And, because we are so "programmed" to perform for everyone else that, when it comes to God, we sometimes feel as if we must "perform" in order to please Him as well.
For example, "If I'm going to please God, I have to read my bible for three hours a day and pray for at least two." But what happens on that day your alarm doesn't go off and you jump up with 30 minutes to get dressed and get out of the door? You miss the morning prayer time that you set aside in order to “please” God. Now you're rushing to start your day, and on top of that, you feel disappointed in yourself because, "I didn't have my morning prayer time."
Yes, we must always put God first. And starting any day with time in His presence is so refreshing. But, please remember, God is not impressed with our works. Things we feel we must do or not do in order to please Him. He doesn't want us to feel as if we must perform for Him.
He simply wants relationship. He wants you to come to Him for Him. Not because you feel obligated or out of ritual and routine. But, the overwhelming love that you have for Him and that He has for you, should cause you to desire a relationship with Him. And that desire for relationship will birth desire to please and worship Him with your life. Not performing for Him.
God doesn't have a hat for you to wear and unreasonable expectations for you to meet. He simply wants communion. He just wants you.
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)
Our self-righteousness (the things we attempt to do to make us right with God) is as filthy rags. It can in no way compare to the place of right standing we've already been given.
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)
We are already made right with God. It's already done. You don't have to pray for 5 hours for it. Read your bible 6 hours for it. Those things are necessary and needed. You do those things because you want to be close to Him and to grow in Him. Prayer and reading your bible are things we do because of relationship. When it is done out of obligation or because we feel we have to perform for God, it can become pure drudgery. Not life giving. And God wants you to have life.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)
God wants you to have a rich and satisfying life. You don't have to perform for Him. Rest in Him.
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. (Matthew 11:28, 29 NLT)
God only has rest for you. No unrealistic expectations. No duties for you to perform. No deadlines. No pressure.
Father, help me to simply rest in you and receive your peace. Help me to be mindful today that I don't have to perform for you. You only have joy and peace for me. Amen.