Turning that Stride into a Strive
Strive (verb): make a tenacious effort to achieve or obtain something; to struggle in opposition
1 Nephi 17:15: "Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence."
I have been studying the book of 1 Nephi recently, and I was intrigued by the word "strive." It certainly is not a passive word, and I've heard ministers preach about "striving for our faith," but the definition of "striving" didn't really make sense until I examined Nephi's actions.
Time and time again, Nephi exhorts (urges) his wayward brothers to follow the Lord. In the wilderness, he fights for the righteousness of his people so they do not give into sin and be lost. His faith in the Lord allows him to see his father's vision of the tree of life, and even when his father murmurs against the Lord for the lack of food in the wilderness, Nephi works fervently to turn his heart to righteousness once again (1 Nephi 16:20). Nephi's striving is what saves Lehi and Ishmael's family in the wilderness. He makes a bow, builds a ship, and seeks the Lord's strength to overcome great opposition from his family, some of whom try to harm him.
Why did Nephi feel the urge to strive? Because the Lord showed him the rest of the story in a vision. He saw the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, the scattering of Israel, and the future of both his and Laman and Lemuel's generations. Nephi was given much knowledge, and he was determined to keep the commandments and stay faithful, even when threatened with death.
Do we have the same knowledge as Nephi? Well, the Bible and Book of Mormon provide us with the fullness of the gospel, and we know how the story ends (God wins!). Do I strive on a daily basis to stay faithful and do the right thing before God? I'll be honest. My answer is a hearty "sometimes."
Mostly, I'm just striding along.
Stride (verb): walking with deliberate steps in one direction at a steady pace
Striding isn't a bad thing. It's forward motion. It's consistent and it gets the job done. But is it enough?
Here's an example of my stride: The other day, I passed an elderly, lonely man who looked forlorn, and I felt to say hello and try to brighten his day. When I approached him, my human nature of hesitation and shyness took over, and all I did was offer a smile and walked by. He smiled back, and that was it. Sure, the smile probably helped a little, but now I'll never know what could have happened had I followed the prompting to "strive" and say hello.
Sometimes I am merely striding when I should be striving, straining with earnest intent to accomplish my goal to spread the gospel and show God's love. Striving gives us opportunities to flex our spiritual muscles and push against the world with the strength of the Lord; even mountains aren't strong enough to stand in his way (Matthew 21:21).
I think it's time I turn my "good, solid try" into a "give it my all." How can you turn your stride into a strive today?
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