Be a Log—But Not a Bump on One
Here’s the truth …
“… make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV).
One day I found myself crying as I was unpacking boxes for a reading program at a school where I was slated to serve as a tutor in that program. The monotony of filing away into file folders lesson after lesson was getting to me. Earlier that day, I had to put together with screwdrivers some wire racks that would go into old file cabinets that would house these folders. I asked God how someone with my educational background was supposed to be happy doing work that was not taking full advantage of all that I had to offer. Did I really need a Ph.D. to screw wire racks together and to alphabetize? He spoke very clearly to my heart and told me that one day, I was going to have people working under me and that this very job today was going to be an employee’s job in the future. I needed to have full understanding of how it felt to be in that role so that I would be sensitive to that person who, too, might have unfulfilled desires. All of my work in this job would not be wasted at all. It would prove useful later. Such words penetrated my heart because that explanation helped me to live another day, opening lesson packages and bruising myself with a screwdriver gone awry! He taught me to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV).
Sometimes we think we are in a pit, but God has a way of showing us that we can decide in our present whether or not we are going to stay in our pit or, instead, see it as a temporary pit stop in a lifetime that is being authored by the Almighty who has a purpose for everything that we do.
Later, as I was driving on the highway, in front of me merged a large truck carrying freshly-cut tree logs. They looked stunningly beautiful, and I shook my head in shame that those trees were no longer allowed to thrive in nature but had a short lifespan instead. God quickly took hold of that and set me straight. He spoke to my heart that the purpose for the logs was to be sacrificed so that someone else could thrive. Tables could be made from the logs that would provide hours of memories for families who dined there. Homes could be built for people who needed shelter. Paper could be made for people who had something important to communicate. And it was then that I realized that He wanted me to be a log. He wanted me to recognize that there was much value in sacrificing my career in this season of my life so that my daughter could thrive with my full attention placed on her life. He wanted me to be a person who was willing to lay down her life for someone else. Didn’t Jesus do that?
Now, if I take the log analogy even further, I bet the logs could say that they already had a significant purpose as trees—that their purpose was to provide shade on a sunny day or to deliver a place of rest for birds. And those are noble purposes indeed. But once we get past what we think is supposed to be our purpose and allow God to direct our steps to His purpose for us, we will be so much more satisfied than all the shade and rest we could ever offer in our current state. In other words, my writing today could be about “be[ing] content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11b NIV), but I want to challenge us to think about the difference between contentment and complacency.
A friend of mine was questioned on her birthday by another friend: what are your goals for this next year of your life? My friend was unable to utter anything, feeling totally taken by surprise. Her life consists of taking very good care of her family while also running an art program for children in her area. She helps out at Sunday school, chauffeurs her kids around, and assists her aging parents from across the country, visiting them regularly. She handles her family’s finances, cooks amazing meals, and bakes for her neighbors frequently. Someone fruitful like that might think that she fulfills enough purposes. But we are all a work in progress.
We all have areas of our lives that need to be surrendered over to Him. Each year that He gives us life, we should be able to say by the end of it that we have been transformed in some way so as to be one step closer to doing the “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). Are all of those things that my friend is doing daily reasons enough to keep from setting goals? Noble as they are, they could be just like the trees who thought that providing shade and rest are enough, too.
Same with me. In my situation as I filed away books and learned that being a “log” had a greater purpose in God’s life plan for me, I learned about contentment. But what I also needed to realize was that it was for a “season” and not forever. It is good to live with contentment right where God has us, don’t get me wrong; it is even better to make sure that such contentment doesn’t turn into complacency.
Maybe it’s that you need to give up some vice that is holding you back from being the person He is calling you to be. Maybe it’s a new habit that He’d like for you to begin, like eating spinach every day or exercising more often each week. Maybe it’s a spiritual discipline that He’d like for you to try, like reading the Bible in a more structured way. Peter says, “… make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV). Everything is a building block, adding to the whole person God has slated for you to be. Peter continues: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8 NIV). And therein lies the point. We can’t grow in our knowledge of Him if we don’t step out in faith towards our next step.
Has God placed a dream in your heart? Then ask yourself what you might need to surrender or what smaller goals you might need to set enroute to that larger dream?
Both Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer talk about leading small-group bible studies for many years before God took them to the next level of leadership. If you can be trusted with little, God will trust you with more (Luke 16:10). More importantly, if you can surrender your will and see what His will is for your life, you will see the good God has planned for you: “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
Be content where God has you, whether in a career, at a job, or at home. But never think for a moment that you are done setting goals. God certainly isn’t finished with you yet!
… and that’s the truth as I know it!