Invisible Labor

Stay faithful even when you can’t see the fruit
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I sat at my computer and hoped the words would compose. Why am I doing this to myself? I wondered. After two years of freelance writing, I felt I had little to show for my work.

The slow progress left me frustrated and feeling alone. If this was the place where God had called me, why wasn't he blessing my efforts? Why were my days made up of unanswered emails and unending rejection?

On days our work feels fruitless, we face a choice—will we dig down deeper, adjust our perspective, and listen as the Spirit leads? Or will we ignore our flaws, throw up our hands, and check out spiritually? Our response defines our posture and dictates our perspective.

Wrestling with Ourselves

When others seem unresponsive or our work feels unfruitful, questions inevitably arise. Is this where I'm supposed to serve? Am I doing something wrong? Why isn't God rewarding my labor? As we wrestle with our questions, we invite God to show us personal shortcomings and cultivate character.

When I began writing, I assumed that a shower of success would follow. Surely others would see the depth of my insight and rush to publish my work. But instead, most emails never received a response. Many pieces were politely turned down.

A spiritual tug-of-war ensued as I struggled with God's unexpected plans. With every rejection letter, he exposed my impatience. He uncovered my childish demands. And he showed me that my present season was more about character formation than career formulation.

God allows us to wrestle with ourselves so that we'll eventually rest in him. We face our insecurities, release our expectations, and accept our situation. Through the process, we open ourselves to God's deeper work, allowing him to produce perseverance and patience within us.

Reframing Faithfulness

As we explore our misconceptions and welcome God's work, our perspective changes. Before, faithfulness might have looked like larger numbers, more speaking engagements, or extra volunteers. Now faithfulness looks like deeper faith, stronger relationships, and openness to new ideas. We shift our focus from the physical and flashy to the simplistic and spiritual.

In every life stage, we strive to measure our success. As a student, I evaluated myself based upon grades, internships, and job prospects. As a church associate, I tracked event attendance, vision buy-in, and volunteer enthusiasm. As a writer, I look for ways to improve my work and add to my resume.

But once the indicators evaporate, we're forced to reevaluate. What if physical factors are markers instead of measures? Perhaps grades reflect book knowledge. Numbers indicate people's interests. Resumes show our superficial success. These identifiers provide markers that help us assess our situations, yet they cannot measure our wisdom, depth, or growth.

September23, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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