As another day went by in procrastination, I was wondering what I should do tomorrow, so that it would be more productive. I was tossed by emotions that made me feel guilty about the time, resources and energy I had wasted. But the Spirit of the Lord in me revealed something else. He told me to look at work from His perspective. I was reminded of a beautiful verse which talks about laboring and prospering with the Lord.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.Psalm 127:1-2 (NKJV)
I feel a lot of things that I am supposed to do don’t excite me anymore. So what do I do in moments like these? Lately, I have been reading about Stephen from Acts 6-7. The Bible says he was full of faith and power and did wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8). But we see in the church, he was given the duty to serve food (Acts 6:2). While he served at the table, he became influential, not because of the task he did, but because the work of the Spirit in him could not be hidden. People around him were not able to resist the wisdom he carried (Acts 6:10). My calling according to Romans 8 is to be conformed to the image of the Son and Romans 11 further assures that the calling of God is irrevocable. The impact of procrastination in this scenario is that it can delay my progress.
Unlike Stephen, when work doesn’t excite me, I cuss at the work and stay away from it. I attribute this inefficiency to myself by saying, “This is my fault. I should have made better decisions in the past, then I would have been at a better place by now.” When my mind plays the blame game, the Spirit of the Lord asks me to stop condemning myself (Romans 8:1). Over the years, I have realized that condemnation is a slippery slope where we tend to remain because of our thoughts. We can only get out of it by the Word of God, which is powerful enough to pierce through the division of heart and soul (Hebrews 4:12). In this context, I am reminded of Ephesians 3:20 which says,
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)
My attempt here is not to find loopholes or justify procrastination. Rather, I am trying to reflect on how we feel versus what our reality in Christ is. Indeed, I am sorry for all the time and energy I wasted. But striving is not how I get out of it, because it will quickly exhaust me. The best thing to do is to engage with the truth and remind myself of my identity. This will realign my heart and mind.
The verse from Ephesians 3:20 is about trusting the Lord to do far more than my expectation and perceptions about myself. This also makes me dependent on Him, and I have boldness and security in my mind as I work. Now the Psalmist makes more sense when he says, “He gives His beloved sleep.” It gives us an image of how we are being taken care of by the Lord. We can neither be barren nor unfruitful because we already have all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1). Thus, with the Lord who knows our thoughts from afar, let us do mighty things, rather than worry about how we will pay temple taxes (Psalm 139:1; Matthew 17:24-27).
Another thing that I tend to do during these times is to look down at my work and start wondering its role in the big picture. The lesson that the Spirit of the Lord is teaching me through the life of Stephen is not only about the value of my work, but also about the One in me. It is neither about working hard nor about being lazy. Instead, it is about functioning in life from the union that I have in the Lord.
‘Union’ is a relatively new word for me in the context of my relationship with the Lord. I now prefer to use it over ‘partnership’. Partners are two separate individuals who have the same goals but differ in skills and technicalities. They come together so that their combined effort can help them achieve their goals. But in union, there is an inseparable bond between the parties. They both have the same mind and heart. The Bible says that we have the same mind of Christ and Christ, who is the hope of glory, lives in us (Philippians 2:5; Colossians 1:27). It is from this oneness that we live and function. I like to believe that more than my best creative ideas, what the Lord provides to me during my sleep is going to bring life to me and the people around me. This is not about belittling myself, but deriving an understanding of my worth by looking at myself with Him and in Him.
Christ has called us the light and salt of the world (Matthew 5). To shine and bring flavour is a default setting that we get to share in this union. So it is not about my picture of the work or what I do but who I am. And this identity will make our faces shine even in the middle of adverse circumstances and teach us the language of love (Acts 6:15; Acts 7:2). And know that the greatest of all is LOVE!