Do you ever find yourself working so hard to please God that you never stop to ask, “Does God really care that I’m doing this?” Better yet, do you ever find yourself frustrated because there’s some sort of work you think you must be doing for God, and you can’t do it?
Several people in my life, myself included, seem to be struggling with this particular issue at the moment. A character a book I’m reading right now is also dealing with this problem. I know, this isn’t a real person, but hey, I take books seriously. So, she might as well be real. Anyway, Katy, a young mother and homemaker in the mid 1800s, is having a typical day. The chores are overwhelming, people keep dropping by and distracting her, the kids have a lot of needs, and she can’t do all that she wants to accomplish. She says, “This whole day has been frittered away in the veriest trifles. It isn’t living to live so. Who is better for my being in the world since six o’clock this morning?” (Stepping Heavenward 298). Aside from sounding like a real Debbie Downer, you can tell that she’s really struggling with priorities and disappointment about her role. She has one idea about how to serve God, and well, her life isn’t allowing her to do it the way she wants.
Here’s another example. A good friend of mine has been recently hospitalized. The doctor has told her to rest, and well, she really doesn’t want to. She’d rather go home and do her work. She’s frustrated that she has to stay longer than she expected.
As for me, I’m trying to figure out if that guilty feeling about the pile of dirty dishes is more from God or from my perfectionist tendencies. Somehow, I really don’t think, in the whole scheme of things, that God really minds the dishes that much. But I don’t know about the unfolded laundry…
Finally, there’s Milton, the blind poet from the 17th century, whom I’m including on my syllabus for next semester. He wrote a poem about his frustrations with this issue:
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.
Milton, endowed with brilliance from the Almighty, wanted to use his mind for God’s glory. But, being blind, he was a bit limited by what he could do. Yes, he was frustrated, but he was willing to accept that God knew what he was doing. Even as a blind man, he could serve God. His last line recognizes that God often calls us to serve him in ways we might not expect. We, in our weakness, don’t have to be busybodies. We can also serve him by merely standing still.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).