Thursday, August 23, 2012

Diligently doing less

Hey, howya doin'?

Busy, real busy!

Yeah, I know how that goes... Later!

That's the common interchange among friends these days, more so than, "I'm fine, and how are you?" as  taught to our parents or grandparents generations ago.  To announce how busy you are is cool. It sounds like humble complaining while actually being a pronouncement of your awesomeness.  You are in demand, indispensable, and therefore important.

These qualities are definitely virtuous - being diligent, hard working, a good steward of time and resources, productive and fruitful.  We associate all of those things with a good person who fills their life with lots and lots of things to do.  Busy people walk fast, talk fast, give orders, keep lists, redo lists, rehash old decisions, keep up production and micromanage.

Not only that, they need to be mentally and emotionally pushed to the edge every day.  Because they are people of great responsibility, they have to be anxious and worried, slightly angry and frustrated, otherwise nothing will get done right.  Right?

But like I mentioned a post or two ago, we are commanded, not just urged, to be anxious for NOTHING.  No anxiety, no worry, no obsessive compulsive behavior.  Nada.  So if you are now entertaining visions of unemployed, unwashed laid-back hippies, you're not quite there yet.  Keep reading.

So we're supposed to be diligent and fruitful, yet simultaneously forbidden to be anxious or worried.  The only way to do that is to understand the power of living in constant connection with God.  We're under His grace.  Not a cheap grace where we can pass off our selfishness with the excuse that God forgives us anyway, but knowing where our limitations are and trusting Him implicitly for the things that need to be done beyond those boundaries.

Understanding grace is knowing that God wants to bless us so much more than we do ourselves.  We may agonize over how small the return is for our work, that we're doing it for God, that we have the right motives, that we're working soooo hard and trying our very best, so why doesn't God bless it?  Do we need to work more?  Sacrifice more sleep? No matter what we can end up feeling so guilty that we are letting God down, that we're being unproductive and bad people, and go into panic mode.  If not panic, at least self-condemnation mode.

We want so much to be fruitful, but all our focus is on ourselves.  Fruit is borne naturally, not with grunts and gasps.  There is hard work that goes into the bearing of fruit, which is caring and nurturing a tree until it is ready to bud and bloom.  But the real work is often in the patience, care and faith that the tree will indeed bear.  There is a life force outside of the farmer that bears the fruit.  His reward comes from his nurturing, and nothing more.

When we just listen to God and have the courage to do the scary things He often asks us to do, we are given the task of nurturing and caring for something that He fully intends to bear fruit.  But when we get carried away with worrying and micromanaging everything that we imagine might go wrong, we're trying to do God's job.  We want to bear the fruit ourselves and get frustrated when its not happening the way we wanted according to our convenience.

Joseph Lampier knew that God wanted to revive souls in New York City more than he did.  But the revival wasn't his business.  In fact the bringing of people to the church on a Wednesday afternoon wasn't his business either.  It was his business to diligently invite, pray and care about the millions who were in need of God.  He was just asked to nurture the miracle with his faith and obedience. God did the rest.    

Sometimes we get so busy being proud of being busy, that we mess up all that God would rather have us do.  Sometimes less busywork and more nurturing of our faith is all that God needs for us to get out of His way to finally answer our prayers.  Less is more.

So when you're next asked, "Howya doin'?"  You can say, "Fine, just fine!"


Carolina Andrade said...

I find myself working on many different projects all at once. People from all sides need something apparently only I can provide. And that's not even including family. A good friend of mine who has known me for years says that it seems as if I find time to do it all and she wonders how I can do it all and why she can't. I was very surprised at that, because looking at it from my point of view, I was disappointing almost everyone and mostly myself. But this month of the fast of Daniel and the month of sanctification have blessed me greatly and I know great things are coming. Greetings from California ♥

Elisa Nascimento said...

This post is exactly what I needed to read and think about. It's a perspective I will strive to apply to my life, as our desire to be "fruitful" can sometimes be the very reason why we lose the plot. Thanks for posting!

Maggie said...

This is so true Mrs Evelyn. Really... I see myself through this post.ITS s beautiful! thank you for it!