How something so subtle attempts to sneak itself in the journey of grace – “the need to perform.”
The journey of “grace” allows us to stumble, get up again, keep it moving, perhaps stumble again while asking for help, rebound, and the steps continue.
The journey of “needing to perform” yields non-confession, stumbling without asking for help, a stone-cold “I’m fine” – all the time, and stumbling again with little acknowledgement that there was a stumble to begin with.
I don’t know about you, but I personally need the journey of grace…
I was reminded of this reality in Biblical history concerning a certain woman. Her name was Hannah and she had taken all that she could take. Her home, marriage, physical health, and sanity were all on the line. And unfortunately, it seemed like there were few helpful solutions to choose from. So without shame she left her environment for a bit and did what some might only dare to do. She became completely undone, signifying “I’m not okay.”
1 Samuel 1 (NLT) 8 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah (her husband) would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” 9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made this vow: “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the LORD, his hair will never be cut.” 12 As she was praying to the LORD, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” 15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
What a sight for the eyes! In her anguish, Hannah even appeared drunk to the priest on duty!
And this is what the journey of grace allows – space to cry, fall apart, voice pain, scream even, and most importantly pray…
Hannah had clearly accepted the journey of grace, even to the point of not caring who knew that she was in deep trouble. She prayed desperately in that place. Her reputation, makeup, clothes, and dignity took a back seat as she sought something bigger than herself – the presence of God. There was no need to perfectly perform for anyone. This place was sacred. She could lay her burdens down.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
1 Samuel 1 17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” 18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad. 19 The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the LORD once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the LORD remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the LORD for him.”
The journey of grace not only yields a safe space to fall apart but also to be put back together again in God’s way and perfect timing and perhaps with the assistance of some helping hands. Hannah had God and the reassuring and supportive words of Eli in her moment of desperation.
She was not alone in more ways than one… #TheresHope
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How could “perfectly performing” become an obstacle in your life?
How does approaching God in prayer with boldness compare to remaining silent and feeling ashamed?
Who might you need to call on for support or assistance, trusting that God often uses others to show his love concerning us?