The Measuring Stick
I remember years ago at a women’s conference sitting next to a friend of mine who had the most wonderful, wry sense of humour.
The person on the platform began to speak, saying something like “turn to Proverbs 31”. My friend turned to me and under her breath said with a slightly nervous giggle, “Oh no, not her again.” Yep, you’ve guessed it; it was all about ‘that girl’. You know the one that so many lovely Christian women strive to be? The one who seems to have been endowed with boundless energy and endless resourcefulness; and the cherry on the top of her (perfectly baked) pie, is that when hard times hit her family, she doesn’t panic and get her tights in a knot. Oh no, she laughs. Laughs!! Why? Because her faith in God is unshakable.
You know who she is don’t you? ‘The Proverbs 31 Woman.’
Still to this day, whenever I read that chapter in Proverbs, I remember, with smile, my friend. I wonder how many women – and indeed men – feel a little bit intimidated by the Proverbs 31 Woman.
Why is it that the Proverbs 31 Woman, or in fact real people in our lives who are like her, can cause us to feel ‘less than’?
Every church has ‘that person’ or people who always seem to be the ones that come up with the next great idea or fantastic cause to get involved in. They seem to multi task their lives with so much poise, energy and precision. Their resourcefulness seems to know no bounds; they find favour everywhere they go and in everything they do. And their faith seems unshakable.
When the rest of us I try to combine so many things at one time we feel we’re juggling, very badly, with the best china – if we don’t keep going something precious might be dropped and broken! This leaves you feeling exhausted and as though you somehow don’t measure up.
Have you ever been there?
Do you ever feel pulled in every direction?; everyone seems to want a piece of you; your kids, your husband, your boss, your friends, and dare I say it – the Lord?
God Did Not Design You For This!
Why is it that so many struggle with this feeling that we don’t quite measure up? Measure up to what?
Who set the impossible standards that we strive (and fail) to measure up to? And then beat ourselves up for.
Your Father, who put so much thought and love onto designing and creating you, did not plan for you a life of constant striving to measure up. That measuring stick we all bring out from time to time is all in our own minds.
We look around us, especially on Social Media, and it seems that everyone else has it all together. The people we admire and look up to – and if we’re honest, sometimes resent – always seem to be doing amazing things. How do they do it!? They’re ‘measuring up’, and we wonder: ‘why can’t I?’
Here’s why: it’s a mirage! It’s not real. Picture a thirsty, exhausted traveller through the desert, longing for rest and a drink of water. He sees the mirage of an oasis and thinks ‘if I can just get to that, everything with be ok’. But the mirage moves with him. Every striving, exhausted step he takes forward, the mirage moves forward too.
The Unforced Rhythms of God’s Grace
There’s hope, for the tired, worn out, thirsty traveller; a true Oasis, not a mirage. It’s found only in trading our striving after the mirage for the real rest and refreshing that Jesus gives. He offers an invitation to the weary striver in Matthew 11:28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Let’s ditch those measuring sticks today, and learn Jesus’ ‘unforced rhythms of grace’.