Heaving a deep sigh, I say, “What’s the use of it all?” In the middle of the work day, the whisper comes insisting that it is all just a puff of wind, spit in the ocean! Useless! Or there is the feeling that a real life waits somewhere other than where I am. Do you ever feel that way? Are you tempted by spiritual apathy, wanting to say, “Who cares? Let’s just float along.”
A couple of days ago when I was wondering about the meaning of it all, a woman visited with Bev and me who told us how our love shown to her in 1984 had made all the difference in this world and the next for her. Our love, she said, helped her to make better choices for life. She recounted how we just kept loving her even when she tested us, rejected us, did not understand us. I felt no pride, but I did feel the blessing of God, who seemed to be saying, “And you thought it was all for nothing!”
Disciple, apathy is perhaps a greater spiritual hazard than outright disobedience! The Spirit of the Lord invites us to actively pursue His plans, His path laid out before us. That road is not always marked with excitement or full of sunshine. Weeks go by when we walk by faith.
Over and over again, the holy Scripture reminds you and me about the importance of patience and persistence. James points to the labor of the farmer to illustrate how we must meet apathy’s temptation. “Wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.” (James 5:7-8, The Message)
Andy Stanley writes, “The daily grind of life is hard on visions. Life is now. Bills are now. Crisis is now. Vision is later. It is easy, therefore, to lose sight of the main thing, to sacrifice the best for the good. All of us run the risk of allowing secondary issues to rob us of the joy of seeing our visions come to completion. Distractions slowly kill the vision.”(Visioneering, Multnomah, 1999)
If we seek results too soon, if we insist on a continual sense of fulfillment, we will grow frustrated, or we will turn from faithfulness to look for some novel thing, and in that choice lies a real risk of making a awful mistake. We need the ‘long view,’ the vision that Stanley wrote about.
If we work only to make money, we will feel the treadmill effect.
If we make ministry just about checking off the `completed’ box each week, we will lose enthusiasm.
Today, my goal is to complete the sermon that I will bring to the congregation on Sunday. That ‘job’ can be viewed in two distinctly different ways. I can see it as ‘just getting something to say on Sunday ’cause that’s what is expected of me.’ If it’s ‘just my job,’ excellence will disappear. Seeking God’s voice will be replaced with ‘get it done.’ If, however, I take on today’s task (and yes, it is real work!) with the knowledge that God is presenting me the opportunity to help somebody whose lost, confused, or without hope to find the Way or to stay the course, I have a vision that makes the effort required worth it.
Never lose sight of the `why’ behind the `what.’ Don’t allow the lie that tells us every day should be exciting, that each task should sparkle with significance, that ‘things should be easier’ to overtake you today. Take a few moments right now to re-focus and to set the tasks that await you into a larger context of vision. Paul pointed out the real way to keep on, keeping on is to keep Jesus in front of our eyes. To servants (and that’s what we are) he wrote, “Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.” The Message (Col 3:22-24).
Don’t give up or surrender to apathy! Look higher, praying for renewed vision.
Here is a word from the Word.
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.
Remember the great reward it brings you!
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” (Hebrews 10:35-38, NLT)