Are we on task?

I have known a person of letters for many years. I met him when I was in high school, and he worked with my dad. As it happened, despite my youth, we were friends, and we often talked about a book he was writing. We discussed his progress and the excellent feedback he received from his publisher as he sent completed chapters in for review.

He was quite excited, as was I. He was excited because he saw the unfolding of his vision and I because it was fun to hear his good news and to learn the process for writing and publishing a book.

After nearly a year his book was published, and for an academic book, it sold quite well. As a result of his success, this man advanced his standing within his peers, and the university rewarded him for his success as a published professor.

With these new accolades came new opportunities and new ambitions for him. He embraced his success, and he transformed his comportment; he was now published.

Being young and on my own life’s trajectory, for many years I lost track of this fine man. Decades later, by happenstance, we met at a funeral.  He was not the same. None of his other books had sold well, and he no longer was an active author. There was a sense of bitterness, or perhaps it was disappointment that seeped into his conversation. 

Our conversation drew me to the words of Job, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) Our assignment, as Christians, is to follow Jesus, learn to respond in all situations as Jesus would respond, and to actively do the job(s) to which Jesus has uniquely called each of us.

There’s no value from disparaging our life’s condition, even if our life does not look like success to our friends and family. Maybe our life isn’t the one for which we asked. How many times has our Lord given us a harvest which we didn’t sow? Jesus said this to his disciples in John 4:38, “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Work and the fruits of that work are not promised to the same person. Faithfulness is what our Lord seeks from us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to rid myself of selfishness and pride for I know the work You give me is the standard by which You will measure me. You will consider my life not by how much I gain, how many I gather, or successes I garner, but You will judge me by how faithful I’ve been to Your call. Help me to point people to you, Lord. Amen.

Photo by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash

If you’re happy

As I was thinking about writing this devotional, the kid’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it…” came to mind. I began pondering “happy” and that kids love fun songs. And, the “If you’re happy” song gives kids a chance to burn off some of their cornucopia of energy that makes me jealous.

I was thinking “happy” then I asked myself, “Self, do kids get tired of being told what to do?” There are an awful lot of kids songs that tell them what to do, think “Hokey Pokey” on roller skates. But, the songs that tell kids to do something makes most of them happy and they have fun with it. They’re laughing and trying and fumbling but they are having a good time.

Am I that way? As a certified grownup and having raised five kids, some more than once, am I happy when I’m told what to do? I try and I fumble and have to work at getting it right, but no, I’m not happy! What’s missing? Well, my peers, who are probably in the same boat, are hiding their struggle as I hide mine. That’s not how you do the Hokey Pokey. We’re not having fun because our pride is stealing our happiness.

So, it’s up to you. Be the spark plug of happiness. Connect with your peers. Share your challenges. Be transparent. You may be just the breath of fresh air someone needs.

As God’s Word says in 2 Corinthians 7:13 (NIV), “By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.” Be that refresher, be happy, also give others the opportunity to be happy. Come on, put your hands together and sing, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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