The Try-Hard Life vs. ‘My Yoke is Easy’

I drove down Providence Road this morning after taking my daughter to school while listening to New Life 91.9. Emily Freeman spoke about her new book Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life. I thought, ‘what an awesome title.’ The term try-hard life seems destined to become a sermon and group discussion topic.

As the Naaman Complex, see Fasting, Calling, and Managing the Naaman Complex, deforms Christian men, the try-hard life afflicts men and women. How easily I forget that Jesus said, ‘My yoke is easy.’ When did I last look in the mirror, smile, and say, ‘my yoke is easy?’

The problem, I try to carry everything and do everything myself without his help. Yesterday’s January 15 reading in Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, reminds me of the answer. ‘No one experiences complete sanctification without going through a “white funeral”—the burial of the old life.’ Part of the problem is that this death of the old life is distasteful. I would rather have the try-hard life because I know and understand it. I find it familiar. Jesus says, ‘my yoke is easy.’ I say, ‘wow that sounds great, what do I need to do?’ He says, ‘believe and die to the try-hard life.’ I say, ‘no thanks, I’m comfortable most of the time.’ I find a ‘white funeral’ distasteful.

Try Hard Life and Old Problem

Oswald chambers adds in yesterdays writing, ‘Death means you stop being. You must agree with God and stop being the intensely striving kind of Christian you have been…It will not happen by striving, but by yielding to death. Dying—being “baptized into his death” (Rom 6:3) brings his peace.’ So I’m guessing that Oswald would probably happily recommend this book if the try-hard life means the same as the striving he spoke about. After my white funeral, I found ‘my yoke is easy’ to be true.

All too often as a Christians I am like the followers in John, chapter 6 who had just seen a great miracle. They asked Jesus what they must do. He said, ‘The work of God is this; to believe in the one he has sent.’ To me this compares to saying, ‘my yoke is easy,’ Matthew 11:30, not complicated,’ but they asked for a sign right after seeing one. Why? Because doing something is easier than believing (more about believing tomorrow). It was almost like they were saying, ‘we like the try-hard life, just give us something else to add to it’—if ever there was a try-hard life, living the Law of Moses required great effort. Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life,’ again ‘my yoke is easy.’ They rejected him and left.

Do I Love Complexity? Does Try Hard Life Give Me an Illusion of Control?

‘My yoke is easy,’ is one of the first things that Jesus said to Anna in Food in God’s Place because she lived a frantic life, not resting in him. If I suffer from the try-hard life, a life more about doing than believing, I need to bring the doing under the subjection of Jesus Christ. I need to  have my ‘white funeral.’

I use Psalm 131 as my measure of peace. Whenever I make a decision, I prayerfully make it in the frame of mind described there.

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