when strivings cease

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We are almost two weeks into the new year and all over we are receiving the messages that come with “resolutions”. I’ve even heard one of these on Christian radio! Messages like:

30 days to a better you!

Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!

New year, new you!

The self- help industry is estimated to grow to $13.2 billion according to brandsmind.live. Even more than self-help, the diet industry is estimated at $72 billion. And according to Business Insider, that has decreased due to the body positivity movement. Does that tell you anything? We are a people who strive to make ourselves better. We strive for acceptance, belonging, love, worth, respect, value. We place expectations on ourselves like, if I was just skinnier, prettier, smarter, taller (as if we can change that!) etc. then I would be complete, whole, secure, accepted.


But guess what? I’ve also fallen into the trap of self-help, self-improvement, self-love, self-acceptance, dieting, and all of the above. I’m guessing at one time or another, you have too. Even as a follower of Christ, when I know my worth, value, acceptance, and belonging are found in Him, I have (too often) believed the lie that He is not enough.

Which brings me here: When Strivings Cease. It is not often that I read a book and think, “This is a gift from God just when I needed it!” However, that is exactly my reaction. Greg and I have been having a lot of conversations about the grace of God over the last few weeks. I’ve questioned my own understand of His grace and just how great it is. This is actually one of the driving factors for my word of the year: being transformed. In my head, I know it’s God’s grace that changes me, but what does that actually look like?

We received an Amazon gift card for Christmas, and on a whim, I purchased Ruth Chou Simon’s latest book… without really knowing anything about her! Which by the way, is also very not like me. The tag line is what drew me in: Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace. Yes! Amen! I couldn’t put this book down. We are doing a no-tv month again, and so, I was able to read it in 11 days! Y’all. It really is that good.

Yet, the question I asked myself was: “And how exactly do I do that?” I’ve been a Christian most of my life. Questions like these can bring shame on me if I choose to listen to the lies of the enemy. Shouldn’t I know by now how to live my life based on the life-transforming grace God has given me and I have received? I mean, don’t I know Ephesians 2:8-9: “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Yet, the struggle seems so real, right?

Have you ever said something like, “I’m a people pleaser.” Guilty. Or maybe, “I just want everyone to be happy.” Also guilty. Ruth really has a beautiful way with words. She reveals how the things that we all strive after and how they will not bring us the security, comfort, peace, or fulfillment we are longing for. Instead, she leads us to the grace of God. Some people use “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” to explain grace. The Biblical definition is “God’s unmerited favor”.

You see, I’ve realized I’ve lived most of my life thinking I need to repay God for what He has given me through His grace. But gifts don’t need to be repaid. They need to be received with gratitude. From that gratitude of knowing I don’t deserve and can’t earn God’s favor, the way I live my life can be different. We can strive in grace to live the life God has called us to instead of striving in self to make ourselves better. Grace makes new, not better.

There is too much to say about When Strivings Cease and I would greatly encourage you to read it. It really has blessed me, encouraged me, opened my eyes to see more of the truth of God’s Word and what His grace looks like and actually means for me. Ruth’s theology is spot on, which is important to me! If like me, you consider yourself a striver, read this. If you don’t think you strive, maybe read it anyway. There were things I didn’t even realized I was striving after until Ruth explains what it looks like in certain situations.

It’s not often I think a book outside of the Bible should be read, but I think specifically for women, this one will speak to your heart. We live in a world that tells us to strive after a ‘new you’, ‘lose the baby weight’, ‘just love yourself’ and all the other crazy things. Really what we need to do, is learn to live in the grace of God. The world doesn’t need a better version of me; it needs a new me which can only come through the transforming power of God’s grace.

P.S. Read the lyrics to this song or listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music. It’s quickly become a new favorite and goes so well with God’s grace and the end of our striving in ourselves. It’s called “Yet not I But Christ Through Me’ by City Alight.

What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy, my righteousness, and freedom
My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to his
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing: all is mine!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side, the Saviour He will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need, His power is displayed

To this I hold, my Shepherd will defend me
Through the deepest valley He will lead
Oh the night has been won, and I shall overcome!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

No fate I dread, I know I am forgiven
The future sure, the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And He was raised to overthrow the grave

To this I hold, my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released, I can sing: I am free!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!