Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 39: Ready to go (really, this time!)

Two things from Ecclesiastes caught my eye today--practical suggestions I'm trying to figure out how to implement.

First, from chapter 10:
"If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success."

Second, from chapter 11:
"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.... Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."

The first passage seems like an invitation to sharpen our ax, so to speak (because a skilled woodcutter starts there, before he ever approaches a hunk of wood). And this makes sense--I'm a better writer, here as I finish my book and it's crunch time, than I was a year ago when I was just drifting back into writing. I'd gotten out of the habit, my ax was dull, so it took a ridiculous amount of fortitude for me to tap out a blog post, let alone a chapter. Now, even as I look longingly toward next week's vacation, I'm hoping I'll remember this when I get back, sharpen my ax, and sit right back down to work on my next project, so I can rely on skill instead of just strength. I wonder if we don't all have areas in our lives (different ones, at different times) that need sharpening before they can work optimally?

Where are you working with a dull ax, relying on strength instead of skill to get the job done?

The second passage invites us to diversify, rather than putting all our eggs in one basket. Social media experts are abuzz with this advice these days, suggesting that anyone with a message should shout it from as many online rooftops as time allows, because none of us know which ones will catch on. Entrepreneurial advisors suggest the same thing, touting the benefits of having multiple streams of income, so if one fails, we can pick up with another.

I like this idea--it seems like a more interesting approach to life. But I get caught up in the concern that I'll diversify my way right past what I'm supposed to be focusing on--that I'll never succeed because my efforts are too divided. I even feel this with prayer sometimes, like praying for many things dilutes the impact of the prayers that matter the most. I'm not saying that God works that way, but inside, that's how it sometimes feels.

Are you too focused? Too spread out? Or just right? (Sounds like Goldilocks!)

I think the answer to this for those of us who are off balance is to ask Jesus for help. One of the benefits he offers, when we invite him over for coffee and ask him to direct our lives, is that the Holy Spirit will live inside of us, helping us make good decisions. So we can ask, "God, where does my ax need sharpening?" and expect to receive an answer. We can ask, "God, how should I spend my time/how should I diversify?" and He will tell us.

The tough part, sometimes, is to act on the answers we receive. Especially if they're counterintuitive (or not what we wanted to hear). Life is about choices. We can make a choice to follow Jesus, which is great. But the greatness of it is, I think, directly related to how we handle the what comes after that, how freely we choose to follow when he says, "Here we go..."

This is why Around The Sun is my favorite song. It captures that sense of excitement and fear, as God takes us somewhere we can't get to on our own. But (and how seldom do we think about this part?) for Him to take us, we have to be willing to go.


Sarakastic said...

I've been having major job frustration lately and am praying about whether I need to stop being a whiny sissy and accept that work sucks or branch out into more exciting but less stable ventures. Still no answer on that.

Breeza said...

I'm been having major frustration in not having a job. I thought I should look at alternative careers but it seems like God is telling me no, just to wait. It's been a long year and a half waiting for a job (I'm a lawyer), and although I'm out of the valley, I'm not at the top of the mountain yet.

Stella said...

LOL ... I'm a "whiny sissy" too.

Right now a MAJOR issue for me is finding a new church home that feeds me ... that means shaking off some serious comfortableness and launching into new territory which seems UBER SCARY.

FYI--I'm passing this along in case anyone else finds themselves in the same boat ... I was praying my usual wanting my husband prayer thinking "God, do you want me to pray this differently?" What I received was to pray FOR my husband (as opposed to praying for A husband). So, I'm changing gears somewhat and praying for my (future) husband's wellbeing, health, work, faith, strengths, weaknesses ... to support him BEFORE he arrives. I'd like to think he's doing the same for me! GRIN, Stella

heiress said...

I'm very Frustrated and feeling Helpless as well. I know doing 40 Days of Faith doesn't mean God must operate within that timeframe, but to be truthful each time I secretly hope that he will.

I try to be positive and think positive even when I don't feel like anything positive is happening in my life. To be honest I'm really disappointed with my life right now. I'm a teacher I have two M.A. degrees and I've been unemployed for over a year now as well. The job I recently applied for in California hasn't even viewed my resume, I keep waiting hoping they will look at and call me in for an interview. I live in Chicago and this would be a life changing move but I'm ready to "Kick It Up A Notch" as Emeril would say.

Stella- I agree with you about praying For your husband. There's a great website at and they have an article called "31 Days of Praying for Your Husband." I've done it twice and I really enjoy because I get to pray for everthing I want my husband to be and I also include myself in many of the daily prayers.

Stella said...

Heiress: Don't beat yourself up over not hearing back on the resume you submitted to the California school. My brother has worked for years at the junior college here and though he has a MASTERS in his field and is well respected locally, his bid for a tenured postion was passed over for an out-of-state applicant with a DOCTORATE (!!) degree (there were several with Phd's who applied, oh my!).

I'll have to check out -- "31 Days of Praying for Your Husband." I'm intrigued ... thanks for sharing!