Give God time to keep His promise

I try to control too many things. But I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember, so I’m not entirely sure when it started. I just have this driving urge to keep a handle on life so it won’t get away from me. Which is ridiculous, as any self-respecting Christ-follower knows (Luke 17:33). But, hey, I’m being honest here.

I try to control the silliest things too. When I go grocery shopping, I try to think of everything I need for about a month. Grocery stores aren’t exactly convenient to where I live, so it’s easier to make one big trip. But that means I have to plan ahead. That means I have to make meal plans. That means designing several different meals all at once and hoping that life doesn’t go crazy between shopping trips.

The trouble is, life always goes crazy. Life always screws up my plans, and usually I’m left with expired produce, questionable meat, or stale crackers. And none of that would have happened if I’d planned a week in advance rather than a month.

I’m not saying don’t plan. But what I am saying is don’t rush ahead too far, because you never know what curve balls are going to come at you.

Life will take crazy twists and turns. God will lead you down paths you never dreamed possible. He may take you down roads you never even thought you wanted to go down, and somewhere along the way you’ll realize you never belonged anywhere else. But that’s all part of His promise (Psalm 37:4). And God can be trusted to keep His promises (Hebrews 10:23).

But that means we have to wait.

I hate waiting. Maybe you didn’t know that about me. Unlikely if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time. Waiting is my least favorite thing.

At least, it used to be. God has been working on my old stubborn Scottish heart this past year, and I’ve begun to see the joy we can have when we release the things that scare us and trust God completely.

I had to go there several times in 2016. More than once, I had to pry my own hands off of my life and hand it over to God. And then I had to sit and wait and trust and pray, and that was literally all I could do.

No, I should clarify. It was all I did, but I could have done several other things.

I could have gone back to the corporate world and asked for my job back. I could have gone to my many loving and supportive friends and asked for a loan, just big enough so that I could afford groceries for the next month. I could have gone to a pawn shop and sold anything I had of value (I’m not joking, the thought did occur to me).

I could have done any of those things, but one question kept hovering at the back of my mind: “Do you trust God or not?”

I told Him at the beginning of this journey that I wanted to rely on faith rather than finances. I told Him I didn’t care what was coming, that I wanted to place my trust and my life and my future entirely in His hands. And if this was the life I was supposed to be living, I needed Him to provide for me, and if it wasn’t, I needed Him to stop.

Good gracious, friends, be careful what you ask for. Because God will hold you to declarations like that.

A few times throughout last year I thought God had stopped providing, but that was because I was planning too far ahead. So I started looking at life differently. I woke up every morning and thanked God for what I had that day, because every day I had what I needed for that day. And when tomorrow arrived, I would have what I needed then. God just wouldn’t always let me know ahead of time.

That is the recurring tale of my 2016. Until the end of December when God opened his storehouses and poured some major blessings on my silly head—blessings enough to provide over and above what I had expected for 2017.

While part of me is concerned He’s providing this much this quickly and telling me about it, the louder part of me is simply choosing to be thankful. I don’t want to forget what He’s taught me this year. Even if I have enough for months and months, it could still all be lost in an instant.

God has to be enough. Just God. Not money. Not possessions. Not power or influence or book sales or car maintenance or health insurance. All those things are wonderful blessings, but God is enough for me. He’s enough to provide what I need when I need it, and He doesn’t have to tell me what He’s doing or when He’s doing it. He’s God. He’s got a plan. He’s working everything out for my good. (Romans 8:28)

My part in this story is to be still. To trust. To wait. My responsibility is to give God time to keep the promises He’s made me, because He will. He always has, and He always blows me away with His goodness and generosity.

Are you trying to control your life? What about your finances or your health or people in your life? You can’t. You need to let go and give it to God and trust that He will work things out. And once you do that, you need to wait.

Even if it feels like you’re standing still. Even if it feels like you’re wasting time. Even when it feels like you should be doing something—anything. Just wait.

You’ll see the door when He opens it. There won’t be any doubt in your mind.

Who has time to wonder?

When was the last time you stopped and took a moment to marvel at who God is? No? How about the last time you stopped and took a moment to just be amazed at what He’s done for you in your life? Yeah, me neither. It’s been a while. Not because I’m ungrateful or because I’m overly self-centered. I’m just busy, and I think it’s better to spend my time wisely doing the things that God has told me to do with myself while I have the time and energy to do them.

But is our life supposed to be hustle and bustle all the time? Are we supposed to be constantly on the go? Never stopping to breathe, to think, to praise, or to just be?

I struggle with this. Even when I’m supposed to be doing something fun and relaxing, I’m still thinking about how I can leverage the situation so that I’m still time efficient. Like recently when I went to the zoo with my three Forever Sisters and the Unsinkable Hoochild. I was looking forward to hanging out with them, to catching up, to being together with them, but I was also using it to get my daily two miles into the schedule so that I could get straight to work when I got home later. Nothing wrong with multi-tasking, right?

Well, as per usual, the Hoochild taught me a very important lesson that day. This kid teaches me something every time I see her, and that day was no different. She was so excited to see the sheep. This kid loves sheep. She laughs and jumps and claps her hands whenever she sees them.

Do I like sheep? No freakin’ way. I’ve had way too many experiences with sheep in my life to ever go to the zoo to see them. But I love going to the zoo to watch Hoochild see them because she finds joy in things that my grown-up attitude no longer appreciates.

Hoochild wondering at the tigers at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Hoochild wondering at the tigers at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is one of those passages that makes me cringe every time I read it. More often than not, I’m Martha. I’m the one running around trying to do too much all at once. And, please don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and place for that. We need the people who will work hard and get things done. But there’s also a time to sit still and wonder at Jesus, and as adults–especially Christian adults–I think we lose that.

Jesus Himself said it. There’s only one thing worth being concerned about, and Mary figured it out. Mary was sitting at His feet, listening to Jesus and marveling.

Hoochild turned two this week. Two whole years old, and I just can’t believe it. It was just yesterday that I saw her for the first time when she was less than 12 hours old. It was just yesterday her mama made me hold her while I was sitting in my cubicle at work, and I was terrified I would drop her. Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Hoochild's adorable uncle many, many moons ago

Hoochild’s adorable uncle many, many moons ago

But then yesterday Hoochild’s uncle was four years old, sitting on the plastic slide in the old church’s playroom, narrating Dave and the Giant Pickle verbatim while I minded him during a ministry banquet. That was yesterday too, right? Wrong. That was like 17 years ago, and today Hoochild’s uncle is getting married. He also graduated from college this year.

My goodness. Where does the time go?

When you’re young, you listen to your elders talk about the rapid passing of time, and you think it can’t possibly go that fast. You can’t go to bed one morning when you’re 14 and wake up and be 30. That just doesn’t happen. I can testify, friends, it really does happen. It’s happened to me. And I thought I was being careful about it too.

When I think back over my life, how much time have I spent on useless things? How many hours have I wasted worrying about people and relationships and events and things that God had already taken care of–things I ultimately had no control over anyway? Maybe I thought worrying and twiddling my thumbs would be productive, but it never was. Wouldn’t all that time have been better spent in wonder at Jesus? Wouldn’t those days of frustration and anger or irritation been better if instead of giving in to my anxieties, I spent them in amazement at God’s grace?

Hoochild marvels at sheep. And maybe I don’t like sheep much, but I can marvel at my first conscious breath in the morning. I can wonder at the stars in the sky and that even amidst all their numbers, God still knows my name. I can stand in awe of the fact that God is a God of brilliance and creativity and that He made a world of infinite complexity for me to enjoy. That’s time well spent, Christians. Because you can worry and fret and stew and sulk all you want, but you won’t gain anything. But if you spend your time in wonder at God, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who He is and just how much He loves you.

Who has time to wonder? Maybe the better question is: Who has time for anything else?

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Your ticket to one wild ride

Do you take God seriously? I mean, do you trust Him when He promises to bless you for obedience? When God tells you to do something and you do it, what do you expect will happen? Do you think He’s just going to turn His back on you? Do you think He’s asked you to do something just to watch you dance like a puppet on a string?

God doesn’t work like that. Yes, there are many times when we’ll encounter situations in our lives that will test our faith, but it’s never God dangling a carrot in front of our faces to see if we’ll bite.

So when you obey, when you do what God has told you to do, are you ready for what comes afterward?

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Ephesians 5:15-16.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

God told me to do something a few years back, or at least He put the germ of an idea in my head. At the time, it wouldn’t have worked. If I would have tried, I would have failed. And even though the idea fascinated me, I didn’t hear Him telling me to jump up and do it.

And throughout the years, God kept bringing it up every now and then, kind of like a tickle at the back of my brain. “Hey, don’t forget about this! This is something I want you to do, but you’re not ready yet.”

A few years later, actually in August of last year, that idea came rushing back on me again stronger and louder than ever before. And this time I couldn’t tune it out. This time I couldn’t ignore it.

So I didn’t. I did what He was telling me to do. And guess what? He held up His end of the bargain. Way more than I expected Him to. In fact, He’s opening doors so fast that I can’t keep up. It’s all I can do to keep holding on as He takes me on what will probably be the craziest ride of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited.

But why does that surprise me? Why do I expect failure when God has never given me reason to doubt Him? I guess it’s not that I doubt Him; I just doubt my interpretation of what He tells me. And that’s why it’s important to have people around you who are on the same page as  you spiritually, to confirm what you think you’re hearing.

But how many times has fear of failure stopped me in my tracks? How many times have I not done what God was clearly telling me to do because I was afraid. I don’t want to think about it. But I need to. We all need to.

I learned today’s passage in an older translation that used the phrase “redeeming the time.” I always used to wonder what that meant. And, it’s true, it does mean to make the most of every opportunity like the newer translation says, but there’s something really beautiful in that phrase: redeeming the time.

Taking the time that might be wasted otherwise (in worrying, in anxiety, in purposeless pursuits) and using it to accomplish something for God. That’s redeeming the time. And that’s what we’re called to do. Why? Because the days are evil.

And they are. We’ve never lived in darker days. More people are persecuted for their faith in Christ today than ever before. More people are trapped in darkness than ever before. More churches are being closed due to scandal than ever before.

Frankly, Believers, we don’t have time to waste. So if God has called you to do something, don’t just stand there. Do it. You have a certain amount of time that’s been allotted to you. Some have more than others. But whatever you have God gave you for a reason, and He doesn’t make mistakes. He hasn’t put you where you are for no reason. He hasn’t walked you through all your difficult circumstances just to test your mettle. He’s got a plan for you, and because He’s good, so are His plans.

So do you trust Him? Do you take Him seriously? And if you do what He’s asking you to do, are you ready for the ride He’s going to take you on?

Don’t doubt that it’ll be wild. Because once you tell Him yes, you’re going to see amazing things happen, things that no one else will be able to explain, things that may only mean something to you–but they’ll mean something to you. And that will be enough to remind you just Who you’re working for.

You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Neither am I. Nobody is. The clock is ticking, and time is running out. So stop fooling around and get busy doing something that will matter when eternity gets here.

Prairie dog at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Haven, KS

Seeking is a process

If you look for God, you’ll find Him. Right? He’s promised that in other verses. But the Bible never wastes words. If the words aren’t necessary, they wouldn’t be in Scripture. Every single word is essential. So why does it matter that we search for the Lord with all our heart and soul?

If we can just find God by turning over a stone and exclaiming, “Look! I found God!” why is it important to search with everything we are?

Sincerity is important, yes. If you’re not sincerely seeking something, even if you find it, you won’t understand it.
Because seeking is a process.

Prairie dog at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Haven, KS

Prairie dog at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Deuteronomy 4:29.

But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.

People say they are seeking God, but that’s a popular thing to say. They also say they’re seeking to find themselves, they’re seeking to find God’s will and purpose, they’re seeking the truth. But everyone seems to forget the first thing that has to happen before you truly begin to seek; first, you have to lose it. Then, you have to really want it.

If you don’t really want what you’re seeking, you’ll be satisfied when you find the first answer that fits your expectations.

This verse is taken out of a passage where Moses is addressing the Israelites. This generation of people was the children of the ones who God rescued from Egypt. That original generation refused to do as God told them. He’d told them to go into the land He’d prepared for them and that He had given them victory. But the people only saw the giants in the land, guarding the way, and they refused. So God caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had died. Their children would inherit the legacy intended for them.

This generation was sold out to God, but Moses warned them that if they broke the promise they were making, if they forged idols and turned away from God that they wouldn’t live in the land for very long and would be scattered to the wind. But even scattered and without a country to call home, if they turned back to God and searched for Him, He promised they could find Him. If you know your history, you’ll know that’s exactly what happened.

Seeking God is popular among Christians. But what does it mean to actually seek God? And what does it mean to seek with all your heart and soul? In the Amplified Version, it actually says to seek with all your heart and mind and soul and life. Think about that; that’s huge. If you’re seeking with all of those things, that means seeking is your entire life.

Have you ever looked for something like that?

Most of the time when we seek something, it’s like we’re looking for our keys. During Judgement House, I couldn’t keep track of my cup. We had those lovely Styrofoam cups that we scratched our names on, but no matter how careful I was, I kept misplacing it. And I looked for it, but in the end I just gave up and got another one. That’s how many people search for God, I think.

We seek sincerely for a day (maybe longer) and then we come up with another explanation. Or we decide that He’s not listening or that He’s not there and we accept a lie because we are too lazy to wait any longer. But here’s the thing, folks, those of us who seek God need to realize the possibility that we may not have lost Him to begin with.

Moses was warning the Israelites that if they turned away from God, if they worshiped idols and were cast out of the Promised Land, they could find God if they searched for Him. But in that situation, the Israelites would have lost Him. They had dropped Him, given up on Him, turned away from Him. So of course they would need to search for Him again if they wanted Him.

But Christians? We haven’t lost God. He’s right here. He’s been here. And if you say you’re a Christian, you haven’t lost Him at all.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying don’t look for Him. What I’m saying is that so many times Christians waste the limited time we have looking for something we’ve already found. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wasted ten minutes looking for my keys, when they’re in my coat pocket.

Yes. Search for God. But if you’re really searching, remember that you have to lose Him first. And if you haven’t lost Him, if you haven’t turned away from Him, why are you wasting time seeking? He’s standing right beside you just asking if you’ll talk to Him. So talk. And don’t put words in His mouth. Let Him speak through Scripture, through prayer, through godly council of mature believers, and don’t argue with what He tells you.

But if you have lost Him, seek. Just don’t do it like someone looking for their keys or for a stupid Styrofoam cup. Seek with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul and your whole life. That is how you seek God. It’s not a half-hearted attempt at being good. It’s not you presenting options and hoping God is happy with what you’ve come up with. It’s your entire being laid out in desperate need, crying out to God for the truth. He won’t turn anyone away, even if you’ve turned away from Him.

But even if you find Him, you may not get the answers you want right away. Seeking is a process. And like any other process, it begins with the first step. But that first step is the most important.

Hay bales - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Make hay while the sun shines

I have been struggling with my focus recently. I mean, more than normal. Usually my focus leaves something to be desired anyway, but in recent months I haven’t been able to stay grounded on one topic long enough to finish anything. Maybe I’m too busy. Maybe I have too many things going on. Maybe I finally reached the limit of how much multitasking I can actually do, and my brain has given up trying to keep it all straight.

Granted, it’s not like I’m late to work or forgetting about responsibilities or anything like that. I just don’t feel like I’m getting as much done as I should be. And when I sit down to work on a project that’s hanging over my head, I can focus for about five minutes. And then my brain wanders off to something else. And as a result, I don’t finish anything, and I actually start more projects.

What’s wrong with me?

Hay bales - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Hay bales - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 5:16-17.

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

It’s easy to forget that we’re on the clock. It’s easy to get trapped in the thinking that life will move forward as it always has. But a day is coming when life is going to change drastically, and when that day comes, we will be out of time to accomplish real things that matter.

I live in the middle of 640 acres of wheat and alfalfa. None of it belongs to me, sadly, but through the 18 years I’ve lived here, I’ve enjoyed learning about how different farm life is from life in the city. In the city, you can procrastinate for extraordinary lengths of time because of all the conveniences. But out here? Not so much. If you have an opportunity to get something done on a specific day, out here, you need to do it. Because if the opportunity passes you by, it may not come again until it’s too late.

Making hay is one of those things. I’m sure many people have heard the idiom, “making hay while the sun shines.” I first heard it in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, The Long Winter. But the concept of making hay on a sunny day is exactly what this verse is talking about. You can’t make hay when it’s raining. The hay gets moist and hard to handle, and then it molds. You have to make hay while it’s sunny. You have to take the opportunity when it presents itself, and you can’t put it off. Otherwise, you’ll lose it, and it probably won’t come around again.

I have so much to do. I have so many projects on the back burner and not enough time in my lifetime to accomplish them all, and when I get the time to work on them, the load is so overwhelming I don’t even try. Does anyone else understand how that feels? Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s school. Maybe it’s family or friends. But you have so many responsibilities on you that it seems futile to even try to make any progress because it won’t make a difference. It’s a horrible feeling.

So what do we do? How can make the most of every opportunity and stay sane? I think I’ve tried to take every opportunity that’s come my way, and as a result I’m drowning. I’ve been treading water for years. Maybe that’s why verse 16 is followed by verse 17.

Don’t act thoughtlessly. In the Amplified Version, that means “vague, thoughtless, foolish.”

If you’re going to take an opportunity, know what it’s going to require of you first. Know how much of yourself you’re going to have to invest before you agree to do it. And if you don’t have enough of yourself to give, don’t take it. Because a good opportunity can easily become a distraction.

We can’t just live life without thinking. We can’t just agree to everything that comes our way because eventually we’ll hit a wall, and then all the opportunities we’ve agree to accomplish will lay uselessly on the side of the road waiting for you to finish them when you no longer have any interest in them because you’re so burned out on everything else.

So maybe it’s clear how to avoid jumping into opportunities you don’t have time for. But what do you do when you’re neck-deep in something you can’t give up on?

Well … the verse doesn’t say you have to finish it, I guess. It just says to make the most of it.

Do your best. Prioritize. Step back from the whole mess and sort through everything you want to accomplish and decide what matters most, and then focus on that and let everything else go. Then, when you finish it, move on to the next thing. And when you’re tempted to move to something else? Think about before you start it. Ask yourself if it’s really an opportunity or if it’s just a distraction.

You can eat an elephant, but you have to do it a bite at a time.

Piglets at the Kansas State Fair

Does the Golden Rule apply to swine?

I get really tired of doing the right thing all the time. Do you? Some days, I just want to blow everyone off and tell them exactly what to go do with themselves. You can read into that whatever you’d like. Just don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about. Right? =)

People are very frustrating. And I get very frustrated with people, especially the ones I think should know better. People lose their patience with each other. People don’t respect each other. People don’t put each other first. So what do you do with people who hurt each other? How do you respond to people who refuse to put their own desires on hold to work out a solution with someone they have offended? How you know if you’re supposed to do anything at all?

Piglets at the Kansas State Fair

Piglets at the Kansas State Fair - Hutchinson, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 119:1.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD.

It’s interesting to me that this is the way the longest chapter in the Bible starts out. Psalm 119 has 176 verses, and most of them are about rejoicing about God’s commands. This morning, in the midst of the situations I’m currently dealing with, I could use some joy. And if the key to being joyful is to follow God’s instructions? Well, sign me up. I want to know what God’s instructions are so that I can be joyful. Because in spite of the dictionary definition, joy isn’t dependant on your circumstances. Joy supersedes any situation. Joy comes from God, from the peace you receive knowing that you have done what God desires.

That being said, what are God’s instructions concerning difficult, frustrating people?

Okay. So I Googled “Bible verses about dealing with difficult people” and there are more than 118,000 results. 118,000 results!

Do you think there are so many verses about dealing with frustrating people because everyone gets frustrated with everyone at some point? Granted, some people are superbly gifted at pissing people off, but in general, we all get under each others’ skins at some point because no one is perfect.

And that’s really what I think dealing with frustrating people is all about: realizing that no one is perfect.

I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. Even when I want to do good things, I still end up choosing to do something that is wrong. And if I can’t be perfect for 30 minutes, why do I expect other people to have an innate righteousness? Why do I expect other people to be good when I can’t be good?

Earlier this week, one of the verses I read was Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Otherwise known as The Golden Rule. I didn’t blog on it because I thought it has been done too many times. But, seriously, of all God’s instructions, this one ranks pretty high up in dealing with difficult people. We shouldn’t stoop to their level. We shouldn’t try to hurt them back if they’ve hurt us — or if they’ve hurt someone we love.

But at the same time, I think there’s another verse to remember. Matthew 7:6 says: “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” And if you keep reading, Matthew 7:12 may sound familiar: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”

So how do you balance it?

How do you find the balance between treating other people the way you want to be treated but not wasting what precious time we have on people who will ultimately turn on us? It’s a good question and a hard one to answer, and I don’t know if I know the answer yet. But I can tell you the first thing to check.

Check your own heart.

Just as the Golden Rule is found in both Matthew 7 and Luke 6, there’s another passage in both books that should probably be mentioned:

Luke 6:41-42 and Matthew 7:3-5

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend,let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

It’s easy to write people off because they frustrate you. It’s easy to ignore people because they’re difficult. But before you take any step toward correcting their behavior or judging them for their actions, you need to look in the mirror and check yourself first.

It may not be pleasant. It may not make sense. But this is one of God’s instructions. And if we want to be joyful, we need to follow God’s instructions and trust that He knows what He’s talking about, even if it sounds backward.

Old oil barrel - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The Golden Touch

Some people never struggle with anything. Doesn’t it feel that way? Don’t you know people who succeed at everything they do? It feels completely unfair. When you work your butt off to accomplish great things, and every door is slammed in your face, it’s really difficult to sit passively on the sidelines and be grateful for the success other people have.

Of course, the flaw with that thinking is obvious. Everyone struggles. Everyone has difficulties. And if we think that the sun is always shining on someone, that just means they haven’t told us about their rainy days. Everyone gets rained on, although it feels like some of us get hailed on more frequently.

Old oil barrel - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Old oil barrel - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 15:58.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Do you know the story of King Midas? I’m not sure what culture it comes from, but it’s one of those legendary morality tales that has survived thousands of years. In case you don’t know it, the story is about a man, King Midas, who loved wealth. But one day, he is given the opportunity to have a wish granted. And he wishes that everything he touches would turn to gold.

Personally, I think that would be pretty cool. Just to have the power to turn one thing into something else. That would be pretty amazing. But there is a downfall to Midas’s wish. He can’t eat. He tries, and the food turns to gold before it gets to his mouth. And there is a worse consequence. His beloved daughter comes to greet him, and when he touches her, she turns to gold.

The story of King Midas is really more about greed and contentment than anything else, but it’s what I thought of when I read today’s verse. Because I know people who have the Midas touch. Everything they touch turns to gold. Every venture they try succeeds. Every risk they take pays off. And me? I’m stuck on the sidelines. At least, that’s what it feels like to me.

But then, I read this verse.

Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Take a minute and let that sink in. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether it’s large or small, complicated or simple, if you do it for God, it will make a difference somewhere, somehow. Seem too good to be true? Well, think about it. Who else can make that statement? Only God is big enough to take our lives and our actions and use them in a way that changes others. Only God is able to take our screw ups and our mistakes and make something good come out of it.

I get really frustrated because it feels to me that I have always been on the sidelines helping other people succeed. But what does it mean to succeed? What does it mean to accomplish great things? What is a great thing? How do you measure success? How do you measure greatness?

I’m sure King Midas measured wealth by how much gold he had in his vaults before he had the golden touch. But after? Wealth would have been an apple he could eat. Wealth would have been his daughter smiling at him.

It’s all about perspective.

I have big goals. I have big dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I need to keep my perspective in check because no matter what I do, if I do it for God, it will make a difference, if not here then in heaven where it really matters anyway. Does that mean I can stop pursuing my dreams down here? No way. God gives us dreams for a reason, but it’s wrong to get caught up in whether you are succeeding in your estimation or not. It’s wrong to compare yourself and your progress to someone else because you’re not them. They have their own dreams and goals, and while it’s easy to compare yourself to someone else, it’s not productive.

Nobody has the golden touch. Everyone struggles.

So what if all I ever accomplish is to help someone meet God? So what if all I ever do is to encourage someone to keep following God in the midst of hardship? So what if I put my dreams on hold to help someone else accomplish the task of reaching out to the lost? Maybe that’s not my dream specifically. But if I do it for God, it won’t be a waste of time.