Why We Need To Relax Harder, Not Work Harder

During my tenure as a high school track coach, there was one skill that seemed nearly impossible to teach to the sprinters. All of them began with the assumption that running as fast as you can meant pushing your legs as hard as possible. Nothing could be further from the truth. The human body moves at top speed when it is most relaxed. It may sound easy to do, but it took endless drills to teach them how. I wanted them to expend maximal effort in relaxing harder, not running harder. Even with all that preparation, most of them struggled to get the feel for it during an actual race. 

One day it struck me how apt a parallel this was to our life in Christ. I think all believers start out with the assumption that if we work really hard at it, that’s how we become good at being His obedient disciples. But nothing could be further from the truth. The way we follow Him best is by resting in His love (see John 15:1-9). The more we expend maximal effort there, the more we will become like Him, bearing much fruit for the Kingdom. We need to relax harder in His love, not work harder for Him. It may sound easy, but just like those sprinters, it can feel almost impossible at times. I got my own personal case study of this last week.

I woke up on Friday sensing that Jesus just wanted me to rest in His love that day. It was my day off anyway, so I felt that it would be something I could enter without much effort. Nothing could have been further from the truth. What the Lord was telling me was not so much an encouragement but a warning. For the next 24 hours I was hit repeatedly with anxiety about finances and ministry direction and then fear of failure over upcoming projects. I then struggled with critical and jealous thoughts toward others, finally overwhelmed with confusion. To rest in His love literally seemed impossible, until…

I woke up Saturday, opened my devotional book, and immediately saw this Scripture: “The Lord will quiet you with His love” (Zeph. 3:17). I was stunned. I can’t even find my way into His love at times, much less relax in it, but He promises to come and find me—and then quiet me, causing me to relax, like a child being held by his father. I think perhaps my struggle here is universal. We don't even know how to begin to rest in His love. He has to find us, coach us, and encourage us along the way. And He will.

For what is impossible with men is possible with God.

Even relaxing in His love.