Living in our postmodern, technological age, we are inundated with information all the time. Browsing through the bookstore or library (two of my favorite activities!) reveals that there’s pretty much no topic that hasn’t been researched and written about. I’m a fan of physical paper books, but there’s obviously a nearly infinite number of electronic and online sources of information. From diet plans, cookbooks, and exercise advice, to personal productivity, self-help, and religion, if you have a problem, there’s at least a dozen sources of potential answers.
Culling through all the noise and conflicting advice is enough to make your head spin. There are certainly useful and sometimes very helpful ideas that we can implement in our lives in practical ways. But, as a Christian, I’ve found that all the worldly advice and self-help rhetoric can never compare to God’s perfect guidance. I’m reminded of one of my favorite verses from Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 4-7
When I’m striving for control, I can dive deep into the latest research, diet, or other self-help approach, seeking to improve myself and be healthier, smarter, and more productive. But, none of that information can ever give me what I deeply desire. It can’t fill the God-shaped hole inside me or provide the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. In fact, instead of lasting peace, this striving for control ultimately leads me away from God as I rely on my own understanding.
When I trust in God and rest in prayer, I am consistently amazed by how perfect His timing is, how the right words come to mind and prompt me to act in loving ways so I can connect with those around me. What truly matters always gets the appropriate amount of attention and time when I stop striving to control and accept the world around me.
If you step back and think about it, this striving and seeking our own way forward, instead of relying on God, it’s pretty ridiculous. The Creator of the universe has made Himself known through His Son and communes with us through the Holy Spirit, so that we always have access to Him and His perfect love. But, so often, our sinfulness drives us into ourselves and we believe the lie that we can make it on our own. Instead of turning to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we trust our feeble, limited wisdom. Craziness!
There’s undoubtedly a lot of wise and helpful advice and information in all types of mediums that we can read and learn. I’m a lifetime student at heart and still love going to a coffee shop to read and take notes! It’s my special “me time” that I try to carve out on a weekly basis. But, now I’m doing it prayerfully, asking for proper discernment, so that trusting in God is always foremost in my heart and mind.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6