How do we keep doing that thing we were born to do when the odds are against us ever succeeding at it? Whether it’s beginning a business, competing in a sport, writing a book or song, going for a scholarship or any other thing—how do we keep from caving to the fear that it’ll all be for nothing? We look around and see the competition—there are a dozen other companies out there offering what we’re trying to do in our new business. Or there are already 400 books on the market on the topic we want to write on. Or 200+ resumes were received for that one position we just applied for. Et cetera.
How do we keep plugging along when it all just seems so futile?
A year ago, I struggled with the same questions. What difference does it make if I ever write my book? It’s probably already been done or the odds are against it ever getting into the hands of publishers or if it does, they’ll hate it. Or even if it gets published, no one will buy it, anyway. So, I concluded, what’s the point?
That when I had a God moment. John the Baptist said, “’God in heaven appoints each person’s work’” (John 3:27).
This was brand new revelation to me: God had appointed me to write. And if God appointed me to write, then it just makes sense that there’s a reason for it. It might not be the reason I think it is but—and here’s the key—my writing is not futile; I’m not just wasting my time when I pick up the pen. I’m doing that thing that God has appointed me to do.
And so are you.
When things don’t work out the way we think they should, we often conclude that we’re not “supposed” to be doing that thing. But if it’s in our hearts to do (and it’s not immoral, illegal or fattening), then we are supposed to be doing that thing. It’s our appointed work from the Lord.
Jesus said, “’My nourishment comes from doing the will of God who sent me, and from finishing HIS work’” (John 4:34, emphasis mine).
This scripture contains three crucial truths. First, doing the work God appoints us to do is “nourishing” to our souls; it’s the thing that fulfills us in this life.
Second, the key to that fulfillment is finishing that work. In other words, we can’t quit. Regardless of what the purpose for our work turns out to be, we complete our assignment.
Third—and this is the revelation that totally set me free—Jesus said that doing God’s will (which is our assignment) is His work.
My assignment is His work—which means it’s totally on God as to where it goes. It’s not up to me to make it succeed—and it’s not up to you.
It’s just like planting a seed: I can dig the hole and bury the seed, but I can’t make it grow. That’s God’s job.
Now for the disclaimer: Part of our assignment is to do the very best we can at that assignment. For an author, for example, that means part of the assignment is promoting the work. But here’s the key—if I do the absolute best I can to write the book, to write the proposals, and to promote the book, then the rest is up to God. Whether it gets published or not is up to Him. I wrote the thing and I did the proposals but I can’t make anyone publish it. Or maybe I do get published. Then I do my best to promote it with all the hard work that that entails. But having done the best I can, whether it sells ten copies at church or 20 million around the world is not my problem. I can’t make people buy it. That’s God’s work.
God wants to be in partnership with us. His part is to pass out the assignments, our part is to complete our assignment with excellence, and then His part is to take our work wherever He wants to take it. Period. The key thing is, if we’ve truly done our best, then we can’t beat ourselves up if our work doesn’t “go” where we think it should go. “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
Or we don’t. It’s a choice.
Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “’Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’” (John 5:8). When I read that scripture, I heard the Lord say to me, “Stand up, pick up your pen, and write.” And He’s saying the same to you: “Stand up, pick up your assignment, and get moving.”
Stand up. Pick up. Walk.
Someday, we’ll stand before the Lord and give an account of our faithfulness. If, when that happens, we can truly say that we’ve completed our assignment, Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If we’ve been faithful, we won’t be judged on the success of our assignment because that’s God job. We will be evaluated on whether we completed it to the best of our ability.
Jesus knew that. The very last words He spoke before He died were, “’It is finished.’” He had completed His assignment.
In the end, may we be able to say the same.