I Will

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

He always wanted to be a missionary, but J. Oswald Smith was susceptible to sickness and disease. One mission assignment after another ended with his return to the States to recover from some new malady. So in the 1950’s, Smith gave up on being a missionary and began serving at a church in Toronto.

He gave up on being a missionary, but not on being mission minded.

He spoke to his members about the great work that needed doing, and they raised $282,000 for missions in one year alone.

He began helping other churches raise funds for missionaries. He helped one church in Boston go from a $3200 missions budget to a budget exceeding $200,000 in only six years.

How many more people heard the Good News of Jesus because of Oswald Smith than would have ever heard it by listening to him alone?

Last month I thought I should offer to host the community Bible study that I attend. I prayed about it, but felt a definite “no” being given.

Why in the world should I not host the study? We have a large house with no children left in it. It is a central location to many in the group. And it’s a Bible study, for goodness sake!

But I put aside my arguments and listened to God.

Another woman, growing in the faith, offered to host. It was a big step for her who so recently had spoken of the tongue lashing her father gave her for teaching Bible class at church.

What do you feel called to do? Is it what God is asking you to do, or is it just what you want to do?

Ask God what he wants.

His answer may not make sense at the time, but you can be sure it is the right answer.

 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

To the Work

No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better. ~Jim Yong Kim

“Some people hold up signs saying ‘Will work for food’. If you think about it, that’s like slavery.”

It was a conversation with an eleven year old and he was talking about things to be thankful for. I’m guessing he isn’t thankful for work. I know he’d rather play video games or watch a football game than finish his schoolwork.

The thing is, a lot of people feel like their work, their job, is slavery. Toil, struggle, unfulfilling, just a paycheck.

Jesus tells his followers that their work is to believe in the one he has sent.

Hardly seems like work, right?

Until you start to understand what believing in him means.

Belief in Jesus means that you care for the sick. You visit the widow and give to the poor. You pray for your enemy. You have compassion even when you are tired. You carry your cross daily.

Belief is a lot of work. And belief is something you do all the time. Even at work- your job.

Are you a nurse or doctor? Do you pray with or for your patients? Do you go the extra mile to make sure they are taken care of once they are home?

Teachers, do you show your students how to care for others? Do they see you check on other teachers and offer a helping hand?

Mechanics, do you help neighbors with repairs?

Artists, film makers, and authors do you insist on quality that glorifies God? Do you share your talents with nonprofits, the church, or kids’ summer camps?

Waiters, are you patient with the noisy couple and their toddlers? Do you offer smiles and encouragement?

Prison guards, do you extend Christ’s love to your wards?

Peter tells us to live as free people, but not to take advantage of our freedom. We are to live as slaves to Christ. (1 Peter 2:16)

Are you a slave of the Master? Even at work?

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. Ephesians 6:5-8 NIV

The Right Equipment

lawnmower-384589__180We have a lawn mower that has seen better days. Last year we put so much money into repairs that we decided as soon as something goes wrong this year we will buy a new one. Several weeks ago, after one swipe around the goat field, the mower blades disengaged and refused to continue. It was time to put the mower out to pasture.

The new mower cost more than the first one. It has a floating deck, which means that no matter how bumpy the ground is, the blades will float over top of the terrain. The turning point of the mower is easier and smaller so the lawn doesn’t have large misshapen areas anymore. The grass looks great. The extra cost was worth the expense because the work is performed better with the right equipment.

I have been painting rooms in our house all year. I am not exaggerating. Every month since December of last year I have painted something in our house. Paint brushes and rollers are not all made alike. I enjoy a particular brand. It has a smaller handle with curves that fit my hand well. The bristles are soft and angled just right so that fine lines around the trim are easily painted. The brushes cost more, but they actually save me time and paint in the long run. I am actually more efficient when I use the right equipment.

I have several types of nail polish. The cheaper brands look good at first, but they chip the first day of application, and truth be told they run when I apply them. The more expensive nail polish has a better brush, is a thicker liquid, and lasts much, much longer. The right equipment stands up to the pressures of living and makes everything look better.

Are you getting the picture? Whether you are talking about mattresses, tissues, paper towels, cars, or dog toys, the right equipment makes a difference. And the right equipment always costs more.

You can still get the job done with inferior equipment, but it won’t be as good. Either it won’t last as long, won’t look as nice, or will be harder to complete. Paying the extra price is worth it.

We can do the work of this life with the equipment we have or that we can purchase. We can be successful in our jobs, our parenting, our marriages, our relationships, but without the right equipment it will be more difficult, and truth be told, it won’t look quite as good.

God has given us his Spirit so that we will have the right equipment. I know, I know. The right equipment is expensive. Don’t worry. Jesus already paid the bill.

But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. John 14:26 CEV

The Golden Years

My younger son, all of sixteen years, is looking forward to retirement. He actually told us years ago that he just wants to retire, like Grandma. But now he has several months of work experience under his belt, and retirement is still his goal.

Amos is not lazy. I don’t want you to think poorly of him. He just wants to be in charge of what he does, not a slave to the demands of work.

A lot of people are like my son. They look forward to the end of the schedule, the alarm clock, and the insistence of a job. But what do they plan to do with the years that are left? Travel is an option for some, spending time with family and friends is on most lists, taking an afternoon nap is also an enjoyable goal.

Othmar Ammann
Othmar Ammann

In 1904, Othmar Ammann was a Swiss immigrant to America. He had an engineering degree from Switzerland and came looking for an opportunity. He found it in New York. Ammann helped design and build six of the eleven bridges that connect New York City to the rest of New York and New Jersey. Two of the bridges were the longest suspension bridges of his time. He helped build tunnels and skyscrapers for forty years, including the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.

But Ammann didn’t want to work for others. He didn’t want the demands of supervisors and bosses. At age sixty, he decided to retire and do something he had wanted to do for years, to be his own man. So he formed his own engineering design company, and went to work.

He continued designing and building bridges, skyscrapers, and tunnels across the world. He worked on designs for the federal government to withstand atomic blasts. At age 86 he completed his final work the Verrazano-Narrows bridge in New York City, the longest suspension bridge holding that record until 1981. Ammann built no more only because he died.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge courtesy MTA
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge courtesy MTA

Perhaps you are looking forward to retirement, wanting to get up when you choose, visit people you love at times that are not holidays, and just doing as you please. But just because you retire does not mean you should stop being useful. Many people need you still. They need your knowledge and skill, your creativity and interest, and your ideas. Look around you. Whom can you help? How can you help? The finish line might be in sight but you haven’t crossed it yet.


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. . .” C.S.Lewis