Eyes on the Prize!

Last week was rather grueling. I’ve missed several assignments now on Webcraft and I’m not even sure when I’ll be able to catch-up with everything. The pressure is building, but by next week I’ll finally get some breathing room. So if my time is so limited, what is it that’s keeping me up writing this post at 1:30am in the morning? Well, aside from being a night owl, I’m up against a challenge at work that requires me to step out of my comfort zone. Don’t be put off by my tone…I’m actually speaking about an internal job opportunity within the firm. As much as I would love to say that I handle change brilliantly, I’d probably be more accurate at saying I do “okay” most of the time. Other than that, I’m usually rather resistant and pretty conventional (at times to a fault). Not a good habit I know, and I’m sure God knows too–which is perhaps why I was presented with this opportunity. The major problem I face is…should I really give it my everything? There’s no guarantee that I’ll succeed, and even if I do, there’s no way of knowing if I’ll even be better off in terms of finances or overall standard of living. So then…is it really worth it? 

 

Cat Deciding

To get the fish, or not get the fish. That is the question!

It’s a question that has admittedly plagued me for a bit. At times I’ve even become disillusioned. But earlier this evening while I was having a most terrible tummyache (incredible how pain encourages philosophy), I took to reflecting as to why I felt that way. Self-introspection is sometimes a double-edged sword, you benefit from the insight, but you won’t like what you find a lot of the time. I realised primarily that my concerns came from feelings of unworthiness, and concerns that I wasn’t good enough. Craig Groeschel spoke about this at length in Pt 1 of the Masquerade series over at LifeChurch.tv. We feel unworthy, so we cover it up with a mask. I try to pretend that everything’s okay, but on the inside, I’m a confused mess. Let me be frank, if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s failure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t freak over failure, but I do think that sometimes my fear of it has kept me from pursuing meaningful opportunities in the past. And I think that I’m having my “Moses moment” at this point in time–making excuses to say I’m not equipped to handle the challenge before me, when I know better. It’s time to stop fronting and put on my game face. My God declared that I was given a spirit not of fear, but of power, love and of sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). Why then, should fear keep me back? If nothing else, I should be trying harder!

Now a common mistake that I’ve noted among Christians (myself included of course) is the way they partition their lives. Work, play, God, rinse and repeat. Wait a sec…did God just appear as an item in a list?? Gasp! Pardon the drama. I call this “God-in-a-box” syndrome. We confine God to the areas of our lives we think that He’s most “most suited” for, and carry on with the rest ourselves. This really doesn’t make sense though. We’re dealing with the same God within whom we move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Whether we like it or not, He’s present in all areas of our lives, not just in our small boxes. To really enter into an intimate relationship with the Father, this is a fundamental premise that must be accepted. I’m only human, so I must say that I forget this sometimes. And this was definitely one of those times.

One of my personal credos comes from Colossians 3:23-24, which reads thus:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Despite being only two sentences, there’s really a lot going on here. The fact of the matter is that working to satisfy Man will never really be fulfilling. After all, he can always lie to you, betray you, shortcut you, and even fire you. The rewards that Man can offer are fleeting, transient and are rarely always worth it. But what of God’s reward? His blessings and the promise of eternal life? Are these not things of permanence? Is it not therefore better to pursue these things rather than the fancies of Man?

Ali-Baba Greedy

Well...Ali-Baba clearly disagrees.

Believe it or not, many would never dare believe that their work is actually an offering to God. We are called to shine among men so that we may glorify our Father in Heaven (Matt 5:16). This therefore means that mediocrity should never be an aim or a standard. Sure your boss might be a terrible person. He may never take the time to understand you or may always see things differently. Many persons when placed in a situation with a boss like that will quickly adjust to doing only a modicum of work, just to get by. They may feel that even if they try hard, they may never see any real returns anyway, so…why bother? This is a perspective that needs to change. God is the only One who can really make any meaningful changes to your life, so why not follow Him instead? He was so intensely interested in us that He gave us His Son just so that salvation could be made available to all. In my humble opinion, I would say He deserves not just our love, but our best effort as well.

When it came to establishing priorities, and deciding what to really chase after in life, Paul hit the nail on the head in 1st Cor 9:24:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

As I recalled that verse earlier today my head started to spin. Sometimes fear really does make us fools, at least for a little while. I could immediately see how and where my perspective of this new job opportunity had somehow changed from a Godly point of reference to an earthly one. I was running after Man’s prize, the fleeting, transient rewards that only satisfy for a short time, and ignoring God’s true reward. Truly a humbling moment. Sometimes I think I have it together, and then situations occur that make me step back and re-evaluate what direction my life may be taking. Thank God for those times because I think I’ve learnt more from those periods than from any other points in my life.

Long and short then, I now have renewed vigour and purpose for what I need to be doing. Even if I fail by Man’s criteria, I want to succeed by God’s standards. That’s all that matters now, and in reality that’s all that will ever matter. If you’re reading this, I hope you remember that God has plans for you–bound up in a specific purpose that only you can fulfil. In whatever you do, go hard for God and he will see you through.

Blessings!

Josh.

 

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