Despite Your Best Efforts

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Not your best week.

You walked 10,000 steps a day, and ate salads at lunch, and stepped on the scale.
You gained 2 lbs.

You spoke your mind, and wrote your senators, and finally did something.
The other side won.

You practiced patience.  You listened, and tried to comfort.  You nurtured, even.
But your teenager is locked in their bedroom, pouting.

You went to 2 meetings.  You met with your sponsor.  You prayed.
Yet here you are, sitting at the bar, a drink in your hand.
At what point in time do you just throw in the towel?  There’s nothing more demoralizing than working really hard for something, only to be greeted by failure.  We’re conditioned to believe that our best efforts will always be rewarded, that success comes to those who earn it.  When that doesn’t happen, it’s as if the world has stopped functioning properly.  We begin to question God’s plans.

11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 9:11

After all, why wouldn’t God want us to be successful?  Why wouldn’t God reward our hard work?  Why wouldn’t God’s plans match up perfectly with the responsible, healthy plans we make for ourselves? Actually…

When I think of God’s plans for us, I don’t think of God charting out our weight loss or even our alcohol consumption.  God’s plans, to me, are played out at more of a cosmic level.  Plans for our souls to flourish, plans for us to be adopted as children of God.  Plans to prosper us with long-term benefits like hope and a future that spreads into eternity.

And so, while God is always present and gently nudging us with Grace, I see the work of our daily lives as our work.  God provides a space for that to happen, called free will.

That means, some days our best efforts will yield us a bounty, and somedays we’ll fall flat on our face.  This is more of a gift than we realize, because the uncertain nature of our lives is what helps us grow.  Think on this:  We cannot always count on life to be fair.  Instead, God offers a lifeline– a future, with hope.

A tomorrow that allows today to be what it will be.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

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BAREFOOT!  A collection of 130+ devotions from Rev. Mitch Todd, complete with study questions.  Perfect for individual reflection or group discussion.  Get yours on Amazon!

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Nothing Doing

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

Lord, could you make nothing happen today?

I’m just not in the mood.

No drama. No stress. No surprises, not even the good kind.

Just keep things even keel.

Nothing new to ponder. Nothing requiring thought. Nothing revealing. Nothing to learn.

No new people. No new ideas. Do you hear me? NOTHING!

Except I don’t want to be bored.

I don’t want to be bored and I don’t want to be stagnant.

This is the only life I have to live, and I can’t let it go by with my head in the sand.

Hmm. Do you have some kind of a menu I could look at?

I wish I could pick the people I will interact with, and the situations I will face.

Could I order up a morning that is just mildly engaging? An afternoon that is interesting but relatively unimportant?

Somehow I expect there will be more than that on my plate today.

Well then,

Thank you, God, for going through it all with me.

Thank you for giving me nothing I can’t handle today.

Even when it ends up being a lot, I have faith that you’ll be near.

And you know what, God?

That counts for SOMETHING, after all.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Originally published in 2012

Nothing I Can’t Handle

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

Lord, could you make nothing happen today?

I’m just not in the mood.

No drama. No stress. No surprises, not even the good kind.

Just keep things even keel.

Nothing new to ponder. Nothing requiring thought. Nothing revealing. Nothing to learn.

No new people. No new ideas. Do you hear me? NOTHING!

Except I don’t want to be bored.

I don’t want to be bored and I don’t want to be stagnant.

This is the only life I have to live, and I can’t let it go by with my head in the sand.

Hmm. Do you have some kind of a menu I could look at?

I wish I could pick the people I will interact with, and the situations I will face.

Could I order up a morning that is just mildly engaging? An afternoon that is interesting but relatively unimportant?

Somehow I expect there will be more than that on my plate today.

Well then,

Thank you, God, for going through it all with me.

Thank you for giving me nothing I can’t handle today.

Even when it ends up being a lot, I have faith that you’ll be near.

And you know what, God?

That counts for SOMETHING, after all.

Have a great week,

Mitch