Life is confusing and complicated. On the one hand, a lot of day-to-day details are straightforward and plain. You make a list of things to do and then cross them off when they get done. You set your alarm clock and then wake up early in the morning. You determine a few goals and then go after them. You take charge and take action. Pay and purchase. Plan and progress. Seek and find. Work and succeed. Study and graduate. Ask and receive. Pursue and woo. You do what you plan on doing and it gets done. Simple. Right? So many things in life seem to required focused energy and 20/20 vision. Even when it comes to God. Part of the plain teaching of the Bible is that if you want to know God, if you really do, you will.
Doing what appears to be next to nothing is actually how you get everything done
Recognizing the limits and even occasionally the futility of all your effort, may not strike you as a very encouraging thought to be reading in what is supposed to be a practical career column. And if you take this to mean that you should completely give up, to stop trying, and just wait for something to happen…this may turn out to be a very counter-productive writing project. But keeping this thought in the back of your mind, in the midst of your career and life struggles, can be beneficial for a couple of reasons.
First of all, when everything appears to be hopeless, when all of your effort seems to amount to nothing, it is good to be reminded that it was never all about you to begin with. Your money; your ideas; your plans; your strength; your drive; your connections, etc. Your key hope in life involves much more than just that. It always has. As Rick Warren said in his famous book The Purpose Driven Life, right there in the opening line: “It’s not about you.” Tragedy may strike – will strike – sooner or later; it might be more than you can manage. Things may not look like they are going to turn out for the best. At one level, they may not. The storm clouds may settle in. But even then all is not lost. And sometimes strange and mysterious things happen. You never know. Your present circumstances could be preparing you, one way or another, for a very positive future – even down here.
Second, it is necessary to be reminded that there is a time to push and a time to pull back. There is a time to make things happen and a time to wait to see what happens. Living at a frantic pace, with the peddle to the floor, is not necessarily the best way to move ahead. Chances are that you are just going to be bumping up against a lot of other people and bothering them in the process. There are some things that you just cannot force. Friendship is one of them. And there are others. Yes, you need to plant your garden in the spring, but then you need to wait and watch it grow; you can’t make it grow. In the same way, once you send in your resume you have done all that you can do; you can’t make them hire you. It is out of your hands now. Might as well forget about it and try to enjoy the rest of the day.
You will need wisdom to know when to work hard and when to wait. And with this in mind, you will also need wisdom to know what to work for.
“Aim at heaven,” C.S. Lewis used to say, “and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you miss out altogether.”
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