Work: Blessing or Curse?

 

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Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. –Colossians 3:23

It was over 20 years ago. The door had firmly shut on the job of my dreams –teaching – and, after I got over my major, extended funk, I realized this was an opportunity to pursue another one of my life’s interests – writing.

So I got a job at a local newspaper writing feature articles.

I loved it! I wrote human interest stories with a positive slant. Interviewing folks fascinated me, their stories intrigued me. I had the best of both worlds: a job I loved and freedom to set my schedule and choose my topics. But I was too stupid to see it. I wanted a position on staff, not be merely a stringer.

So when the society page editor resigned, I stepped into her position. I didn’t like it as much as writing people stories, but I was caught in a “climb-the-ladder-to-success” scenario. Excuse me, trap is a better word.

Fast forward a year or so, and I found myself in the editor’s office. Editor of the entire newspaper. I hated it. I hated the hours. I hated the politics. I hated everything about it.

In his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg tells the story of a man who was offered the presidency of a university. A Quaker, he called together a half-dozen Quaker friends to help him discern whether this was truly a calling from God.

When asked what he would like about being president, he told them all he wouldn’t like. Finally, when asked a third time, he came face to face with the real reason he even was considering it: “Well, I guess what I’d like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.”

“Parker,” one man asked, “can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?”

We can laugh, but that’s where I was. I liked the words “editor of the newspaper” behind my name, but there was no joy. I was absolutely, totally miserable. The mother of miserable.

Fortunately, I didn’t last long. I went to another newspaper, where I continued to write my devotional column, plus another column about my former town and also covered board meetings.

My sister’s death in 2003 made me realize I still wasn’t fulfilling my God-given calling. I was letting money and prestige dictate my job choices.

When you’re fulfilling God’s purpose for you (see Psalm 138:8), joy will fill you. Your work will be a blessing. But when you’re out of sync with that calling, uneasiness, restlessness, joylessness, and even downright misery will rule the day. Work will be a curse.

It takes courage to step out of the rut we’ve carved for ourselves, take off the masks, and leave the comfort of the known.

But remember, God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and He will guide you, direct you, prepare the way for you, walk with you, go before you, and provide for all you need.

Commit your way to the Lord, and your plans will be established. He will make your steps firm (Proverbs 16:3 and Psalm 37:23–24). In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Why not ask God what He wants you to be doing? His answer may surprise you – and will definitely delight you.

Thank You, God, for giving me satisfying work that uses the talents You gave me, fills me with joy, and fulfills Your purpose for me. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 25:14–30.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Priority of the Season

 

“Patience means waiting God’s time without doubting God’s love.” (Our Daily Bread, 3/2/2009)

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 NIV

 

“Obeying God,” I told my husband recently, “isn’t simple or easy.”

I was referring to taking a sabbatical from writing fiction. I didn’t want to do it. I love getting lost in the story, letting the characters carry me away on a journey of their own making. It’s a high like no other, this thrill of writing fiction.

At least it was for my first three books. Then came the elephant – my fourth novel, book two of the PennWoods Mystery series. Like Mama Elephant carries her baby in her womb for two years before giving birth, so too has been the gestation period for Ghost Mountain. Over two years, six partial drafts and more dead ends than I cared to count.

It isn’t that I no longer want to write fiction. I do. More than anything. I miss dancing with the muse. It’s that I’d lost the passion, the excitement for the story. “No tears in the writer,” Robert Frost once said, “no tears in the reader.”

What happened?

Life happened. With all its crises, issues and upcoming changes. Things that take time, energy, emotion, and prayer. Things on which I need to focus before I can move on to pursuing the vision of writing. For now I’m called to lay my Isaac down.

I think of how Abraham felt when God told him to offer his only son – the son he’d waited a lifetime for – to Him as a sacrifice. Sacrifice – giving up something you want for a higher purpose.

Renowned Christian author and speaker Priscilla Shirer had to lay her Isaac down at one point in her life, too. When her sons were born, her priorities changed. Between gigs of traveling the country and speaking to hundreds of women, she changed diapers. She soon sensed God telling her to put the speaking ministry aside for a season.

She obeyed.

In time, Lifeway contacted her: Instead of Priscilla travelling to, say 10 different churches in an area, she would travel to one central location and the women from those churches would come to that venue. Awesome! Less time. Same effort. More people reached with the messages God gives her.

She obeyed God and took a Sabbath from what she knew she was called to do. Then, at the right time, God gave her ministry back to her, better, more effective, more efficient, and allowing time for her growing family. It was like the Israelites gathering twice as much manna on the sixth day in the same amount of time and with the same amount of effort as they did on the other five days because they were not to gather manna on the Sabbath. They obeyed. God blessed them with a double portion.

Essentially God told them, “You honor my Sabbath on the seventh day, and I’ll give you a double portion on the sixth.”

“Focus on the priority of the season,” Priscilla writes in her Bible study Breathe.

The priority of the season. With health and family issues, and DH’s upcoming retirement, life is just too tumultuous right now to focus on writing fiction. I am, however, reading it and studying the craft while I wait for God to open the door again and say, “Now.”

Thank You, God, that You haven’t removed the dream, the desire, to write fiction from my heart. Give me the wisdom to use this time wisely and strength for the wait. Amen.

Read and meditate on Genesis 22:1–18; Exodus 16:21–26

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.