Try, try, try just a little bit harder, So I can love, love, love him, I tell myself… — Janis Joplin, “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)”

It’s always a bummer when you try hard to do something great and it fails.

For example, you do something incredible for your spouse, but it isn’t received the way you hoped. And you think, Whatever. See if I do that again.

Or you signed up to serve in kids’ ministry and now—while you’d never admit this to anyone—you dread church. All you can think is, When does my commitment end?

Or you’re parenting these kids that are growing and changing. You’re trying to grow with them—give new freedoms and engage in new ways—but you keep feeling rejected. Secretly you wonder, How long until they move out? This hurts.

Or maybe you gave money and haven’t seen it come back a hundredfold like the guy promised. It’s just gone and you feel tricked.

How about this one? You have a friend who’s been walking in sin, and you decide it’s time to speak the truth in love. Emphasis on truth. Your friend gets up and walks out. You two never talk again.

You tried to do a good work, but it didn’t work.

Why don’t good works always work? If you sometimes feel more defeated and more exhausted after doing a good work, it’s quite possible you are working in the flesh—independently from God, even if you’re trying hard to please Him.

Good works done in the flesh bring death; but when done in the Spirit, they bring life.

For whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7b-8 ESV)

If you sow in the flesh, you will reap flesh—or death. If you sow in the Spirit, you will reap life.

God, I’ve been trying to do good works on my own timeline with my own resources and in my own strength. I haven’t consulted You before charging ahead, and my life is reaping the results of flesh-works. I’m eager to learn a new way—the way of Your Spirit. So today, I’m giving up on trying in my own strength with my own wisdom. No more trying. Give me the willingness to start depending on You instead. Amen.