When my eldest was two years old (she’s now 27) I quit my career job. It was a big decision for me as I placed so much value in working. I had never planned on being married and having children so getting a good education and then a good career was my grand plan. And here I was, about 10 years after graduating college, quitting. One day, we were out for a walk. At a busy intersection, the crosswalk light turned for us and I pushed the stroller in front of a line of waiting cars. Halfway across a man yelled out of his car, “Hurry up and why don’t you get a damn job!” I was mortified. I wasn’t angry with the man for being out of line, I was ashamed. Ashamed I didn’t have a job to identify me as “worthy.” How he would know my job status could only be the work of the devil.
Sometimes we accept the word of satan much easier than the Word of GodJoyce Meyer
My value, my self-worth, was wrapped up in a career. Here I had a beautiful baby, a loving husband, a nice home and yet I was unable to see these gifts from God. I had a plan and I had quit that plan. I was a failure. Each day my husband would come home and out of habit ask me what I had done that day. Boy did that get my hackles up! I started inventing things I had done or making what little I had done sound so exhausting and important. I mean a trip to the dry cleaning can really take a lot out of you. Instead of enjoying those precious moments of playing hide and go seek with my daughter I fretted over my future.
Life seems so complex and we want to control it. By making our plans we try to take the chaos out of our lives. We don’t want to be those “losers” who don’t have enough money to live on when we retire. We make grand plans for our bank accounts. We try to position ourselves so we are the ones that get that great promotion. We commit ourselves to long term goals with creating a family, losing weight, travelling, careers and so much more. And yet, we forget about today. The right here and now.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t to be good stewards of our gifts. I did a Bible study once where the entire focus was on being a good manager of what God has placed in our hands. You see it’s never about having money or not having money with God. It’s never about having a good job or not. It’s not about saving money to buy a home or not. God’s has all good things in mind for us. It’s always about our relationship with Him. When we submit to the will of God, it all starts to make sense.
I used to pray for God to bring me joy one day. That day was, of course, when I was financially secure, my kids were in good jobs and married, and I finally had the perfect lakehouse. Sounds like the perfect plan, right? I kept putting off joy. Instead of investing in my eternal life by appreciating today, I was investing in my earthly life by ignoring today. I was reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon today called, “Waiting Only Upon God.” He tells this story about the Scottish novelist and playwright Sir Walter Scott:
“Perhaps there never was a mind more gigantic than the mind of Sir Walter Scott: a man whose soul was as fertile as the newly broken soil of the land of gold. That man was a good man I believe, a Christian; but he made a mistake in the object of his life. His object was to be a lord, to found a family, to plant the root of an ancestral tree the fruit of which should be heard of in ages to come; magnificent in his hospitality, generous in his nature, laborious in his continual strife to win the object of his life, yet after all he died a disappointed and unsuccessful man. He reared his palace, he accumulated his wealth and one sad day saw it scattered to the wind, and he had lost that for which he had lived. Had he fixed his eye upon some better object than the pleasing of the public, or the accumulation of wealth, or the founding of a family, he might have got the others, and he would not have lost the first. Oh! had he said “Now I will serve my God; this potent pen of mine, dedicated to the Most High; shall weave into my marvellous stories things that shall enlighten, convince, and lead to Jesus,” he might have died penniless, but he would have died having achieved the object of his wishes—not a disappointed man.”
In other words, God gifts us in so many ways – with different talents, with finances, with family, etc – but when we make the plan to succeed at those, without seeking His Will, we will surely be disappointed at the end. We work and we toil. We stress and we plan. And we forget this one thing.
It’s true. We all will die. We don’t know the day or the hour. Without God as our light, without God as our object of desire, we waste our days clutching and worrying. Spurgeon goes on to say that so many of us make our plans and then turn to God asking what we should do and then go do what we originally planned. Sound familiar? In fact, after researching for this post I finally realized I hadn’t prayed yet what God wanted me to say. I kept bouncing back to my notes thinking about what I wanted to write. I finally just opened my computer, put my hands to the keys and said, “Tell me what you want me to say.” I had done my research, I had quotes and verses to pull from so I was prepared. But in the end, I was also willing to do what God told me to do.
I heard a sermon the other day called “Crazy Faith.” The pastor started out talking about Noah. Here’s this guy, most likely a farmer, who the Bible called a “righteous man.” Meaning he probably honored his debts, paid his workers and did a bang-up job with taking care of his family. He had it all planned out. Toil away in the fields year after year and be a successful farmer. And then God. The great part of this story is Noah didn’t say, “But I have my own plan for my life. I’m a farmer, not a ship builder. Oh, and by the way, I don’t live by an ocean. I’m going to go out and plant some more seeds and reap my harvest. Go away.” I’m sure being a “righteous man” he prayed to God for good things to happen in his life. So, when God said, “Ok, here’s a good thing I want you to do.” He did it. Are we so willing? Or are we married, fully committed to our plan? We are so committed that we miss the God given opportunities to help and love others. We miss the doors He opens for an amazing life rather than the toiling life we have planned.
A few posts ago I mentioned the 100 Lunches Project. Each week for about a year God led me to feeding the homeless. It wasn’t about feeding the homeless really. It was about ripping that need to work and justify my daily activities out of my heart and mind. It was about not planning every single detail out. It was about going first to Him to check in on what He wanted from me. At the time I was working at a school counseling office. I worked three days a week. It made me feel worthy. And then He told me that I needed to deliver food regularly on one of those three days. When I went into the office the next day I said, “I know you are familiar with my 100 Lunches Project. Well, God told me I need to start doing it on Wednesdays so that means I can’t work that day.” Yep, I said that. And the response was, “Ok, sounds good. We are happy to have you whichever days you can give us.” My mouth might have dropped open a bit. Each and every time I went to God for direction, on money, on what to buy, on where to go, on the help I needed, He answered. And I obeyed. It was glorious.
So, you see, it’s not about trying to build up that big retirement account. It’s about asking God what you should do with that paycheck. And doing it. Charles Stanley’s Life Principles #2 & #5 say to obey God and leave all the consequences to Him – even if it seems unreasonable. EVEN IF he asks us to build an ark in the middle of the desert. He has great plans for us – we may not ever be famous or wealthy. But that plan will be good. And if He doesn’t answer right away, as Christians that live close to God, we already know to be good stewards of His gifts. We will have prepared for the day He does speak. Until then, He calls us to enjoy what we have right now. For tomorrow may never come.