In his sonnet “When I Consider How my Light is Spent,” John Milton says, “…They also serve who only stand and wait.” It doesn’t mean that we should sit around all day every day, but there are times when we wait on God to do His part after we do our part. The boy who brought his lunch to hear Jesus preach on the mountain couldn’t feed the multitude without Jesus blessing it first, but he did have to pack his lunch. We do our part and let God bless it, and it will feed a multitude. Our lunch alone will feed us if we are lucky, but it probably won’t satisfy us. We need God’s touch…his blessing…or it is to no avail.
We live in a culture of “Make it happen.” We are supposed to get out there and hustle to make our dreams come true. It is especially true in a writing career. There are countless books on how to write a best-selling book, or how to market, or how to use social media. The truth is no one can really predict what books will go “viral.” The “success” of a book is really up to God. Our part is to write our book to the best of our ability, and to put in the work required, and then leave it in God’s hands.
The same is true of ministry. If God puts something on our heart to do, we should do it to the best of our ability, but God determines the success. He also determines the definition of success. His goal may have been a Vacation Bible School to reach one child for Christ, or to plant seeds alone. That is success even if we have no numbers to report to the congregation or association.
I think we need to redefine the word success so that we merely seek to fulfill God’s call and be obedient to His Word. After that, we have to leave it in His capable hands, knowing He will do what is best. It is not ours to “make it happen.” It is ours to be obedient. It is His to bless as He will.
I was one of the people affected by the Verizon outage earlier this week. I was trying to send a notice to my boss about running late and another to remind a friend. I kept getting a message that the text failed to send. I was getting aggravated and anxious that I was not able to get my message to its intended receiver. I thought maybe I had used up my texts, but then I remembered I have unlimited text messaging. As I drove in to work, still trying to get the messages out, I pondered the phrased unlimited. It means that something can be limited but isn’t presently, like text messaging services. The internet connection at work and home has been a little inconsistent all week, and to top it off Face Book crashed, twice. People were having melt downs over not being able to post to Face Book or use the apps.
While I was driving in to work Monday morning, God showed me that all these forms of communication are man-made and limited. They can crash, and they can fail. God, however, is not limited in anyway. He is limitless. Limitless…meaning you cannot put a limit on Him. You cannot stop him. You can always reach Him. Our connection to God through the Holy Spirit is always there and always online. There are no spots where you are out of service or don’t have any bars. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week He is there, and He is listening to us. In the storms last night, He heard our prayers even as some lost signal with the television station or cell tower. He was with us in the midst of that storm.
We spend a lot of time posting to social media, wanting to share our lives with someone, when all the time God was waiting to hear about your day, your hopes, and your fears. Maybe God was trying to get your attention by taking away your toy, like we often do to children. Not because He is mean, but because He has something important that we need to hear. So, why not take a few moments and put away your phone or tablet or 10 other electronic devices that you have and spend some time in His presence. You have a limitless plan with limitless possibilities. Why not make the most of it?
In today’s society REST is a four-letter word. Everybody, and every body, needs it, but no one wants to admit they took it. People almost feel the need to apologize for taking time off. My students use a resource in class, an article titled “Toxic Work World” by Anne Marie Slaughter in The New York Times, which speaks to this issue. It talks about a work culture that requires more and more time at work even if it is not quality work in order to not only succeed, but sometimes to even keep your job. It is a culture that frowns on taking vacation days. If there is a family emergency, many people are afraid to take off time to take care of things in fear of losing their jobs. We have taken competition to an extreme level to the point stress and anxiety are at epidemic levels. What is to be done?
Isaiah 30:15 says, “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”
A writer pointed out that people have written sermons and devotionals by the thousands on the subject of returning or repentance, but very few talk about the second part: “In returning and rest shall ye be saved.”Even God took a day off. On the seventh day he rested. We even take the Sabbath as a day to be busy, running from one thing to another.
We need to take time to rest at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, and just soak up His presence. We need to draw from the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to reflect on Our Father’s blessings.
The Christian walk is a journey, not a competition. Everyone who completes the race is a winner, but, like any journey, we need to take breaks along the way to sleep, to eat, and to rest. Otherwise, we will run out of fuel and be forced to stand still. So, take time to rest…mentally, physically, and spiritually. Ask God and he will give you rest for your soul. Then, you will be prepared to be his example in a world of people who long for what He has to offer.
I was watching a television movie the other night and the main character talked about how life can change in a matter of minutes. We often think of it as something terrible happening, but it can also be a turn of circumstances for the better.
Some mornings start out on a negative note and we often dismiss the day as shot, something we must endure until it is over. Then, even a small event can turn it around. The sun can peek out after a torrential downpour followed by a rainbow. We suddenly feel lighter, even more so when we get a glimpse of sun after nearly a week of rain and storms from recent days.
I had high hopes of today being a good day, a productive day. Then a series of unfortunate events sent me into a downward spiral, fearing another day swallowed up in a cloud. I took a moment and tried to get a new perspective. The character from the movie was inspired by the concept of life changing in a moment to take a chance for something great. This is the key to joy. Looking for the opportunity to see God work in the moment and to take a chance on Him. But, with God, it is never really a chance because He was in complete control of the situation all along.