But fortunately, God created 7 billion other people for the tasks we can’t do. Sometimes this bursts my selfish bubble and makes me realize that I’m replaceable.
Doing mission work recently, I felt quite replaceable. Twenty of us to built new decks and stairs for a mission school on a Navajo Indian reservation. I appeared delicate and feeble in comparison to some of the strapping men wielding a hammer and hand-saw, and they could have managed just fine without me.
At first, I was humbled and discouraged that God wasn’t using me as his instrument. I drove 14 hours to be a missionary, not sit on the sidelines eating stale Fritos.
But God was working more than I could have imagined, reminding me of one particular insight: God doesn’t give busywork, only sanctifying work.
Maybe handing the real workers the nails or holding a board here and there wasn’t fulfilling in a “I built this” kind of way, but that’s not important. What matters is letting God work in every moment.
So you’re a mom and stay home all day with the kids playing dolls, or maybe you work in an office filing papers upon papers, or perhaps you’re a student wondering if this paper on the history of the can-opener is ever going to take you anywhere.
At the risk of sounding like a cheesy, (but good) Christian song: to God, it all matters.
You’ve probably realized this -- that God can work in every moment, but I needed the Lord to pound it into my head, (sort of like the nails I infrequently hammered).
Not everything I do will seem like it matters. But if I am seeking to do the Lord’s will in every moment, every moment will have eternal value.
God doesn’t waste any time giving us busywork when he wants us to be with him in heaven. And I think sometimes he can get impatient in his excitement that we will join him soon! (Granted, I’m no theologian.) Everything God gives us to accomplish is sanctifying work.
It didn’t seem like my mission work was saving souls, but God had other plans.
Instead of saving other souls, he was working on my own soul. (Not to mention teaching me just how tasty Fritos are.) He humbled me in my physical weakness, tested my patience, and smoothed my rough edges by having me live in a three bathroom house with 19 other missionaries.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18) I put this to the test during my mission work.
Each moment was the will of God for me. The alarm after too few hours of sleep pounding in my ears, the leg cramp with ten hours left in the car or the nail that just won’t hammer straight. But also the satisfaction of seeing the stairs we built finally installed, the squeals of the children I got to know, and the time together as missionaries every night.
How could I wish for anything different if God had planned this moment from the beginning of time? If God had prepared this struggle, or this time of joy, how could I do anything else but rejoice, pray and give thanks?
I’m still working on it, but it’s reassuring to know that each moment has eternal value, and each task is given for my sanctification. Not as busywork. And he does have more planned for us than Frito-munching. That’s just an added bonus.