• Dr. Elizabeth Stevens

An End to Striving

What are you chasing?


Chasing the Dragon

Although I never had a propensity for drugs, I do have a desire for adventure. I also have a desire to succeed in all that I do. In fact, when I couldn’t compete with my brother’s amazing knack for playing the piano by ear and not needing to practice, I decided to focus on things in which I could excel. The saying, work hard, play hard, was my motto. However, the play seemed to involve high exertion and higher adrenaline activities. Steep exposed mountain hikes, tornado chasing, as well as salsa dancing all weekend when I didn’t have an exam the next week in medical school became my “dragons.” However, no matter how many tornadoes I “caught,” no matter how many mountains I climbed, and no matter how many amazing dances I had, nothing quenched that void in my soul to ever feel like I was enough. I never felt satisfied. Or at least whatever satisfaction I had could never persist.


Peace

Throughout various struggles, darkness, and pain in my life, I finally realized what I was chasing. I was chasing after peace. I was chasing a sense of wholeness, acceptance, and a rest from striving. I was seeking an end to the restlessness within me that I thought could be solved by high attention, high adrenaline activities. However, they were only a distraction from the inner war within my soul. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. In addition to peace, it means wholeness, completeness, and harmony.


The Prince of Peace

One of Jesus Christ’s many names is the Prince of Peace. He came to bring us peace. This peace is an end of striving, performing, and trying to earn God’s favor.


Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


The hard truth is that no amount of striving can earn God’s favor or make us right with God. That is why Jesus became human, dwelt among us, and willingingly took the punishment for our sin so that we could have peace with God. This peace is accessed by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, as He offers this peace of eternal life and harmony with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit for eternity. However, this is not just a peace we receive when we die, we can have it now.


Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.


How Can We Have Peace Today?

I spent my life chasing the proverbial dragon, until I realized that it was just chasing the wind. King Solomon came to this same conclusion in Ecclesiastes.


Ecclesiastes 1:14 (NKJV)

I have seen all the works that are done under the sun;

and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.


Regardless of the “dragon” you are chasing, there is only one end, you will be left wanting. However, we were created for God’s love. We were created to be loved and to love. We were created with a void in our hearts for God, the lover of our souls. When we try to fill that void with material things, worldly things, or fallible people, we will be disappointed in the end. The only thing that can fully satisfy us, and never let us down is the perfect, Almighty, all loving, and all powerful God.

When we submit our hearts, minds, and desires to God, He gives us peace. In fact, it is an integral part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that indwells all believers. God is peace, and when we follow Him, fix our eyes on Him, and chase after Him, He rewards us with the shalom that only He can give. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. When He died on the cross, He yelled “Tetelestai,” which means “It is finished.” He was referring to the debt paid for all mankind’s sin. There is a rest in His sacrifice for all who believe in Him as their Savior. However, there also remains the potential for rest in this life.


Hebrews 4:9-11 (NKJV)

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased

from his works as God did from His.

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest,

lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.


It makes sense that we eventually become a slave of that which we chase. When people seek a high, they do whatever it takes to receive that high. This is how people addicted to drugs end up doing things they would have never done before, just to get that drug. However, if we are following in the footsteps of Jesus, in His character of love, humility, grace, and truth, we find our own character becoming more like His. We find freedom from the powers of addiction, and the things of this world lose their hold over us.


Coming to Our Senses

The moment I realized all of the things that I was chasing: a perfect family, an adrenaline rush, checking off adventures on my bucket list, and everything else, I recognized the vanity of it all. Those things will never get me what I truly want. My true desire is to be free…free from the clutches of sin, free from the enslavement of being all things to all people, free from the fear of failure, free from the fear of never being enough. I realized that true peace and true freedom comes from God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. There is nothing more freeing than to be truly and completely accepted as I am with all my deepest darkness and the evil I can’t even allow myself to see within me. As we see the power and freedom of the gospel, the things of this world and the desires of the flesh lose their pull. We find the Prince of Peace awaiting us with open arms no matter how far we stray chasing after the wind. As we submit our hearts, minds, strength, and desires to Him, He gives us the desires of our hearts, which includes that unconditional acceptance and peace that we so deeply crave.


Psalm 37:4-5 (NKJV)

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.