The Sunday Lesson – Do the work
On most Sundays, I publish a short Sunday Lesson. It’s usually nothing more than an observation or an idea or an application from something I’m studying. I feel deeply blessed and deeply responsible for writing this. I schedule the posts to publish at 1:35. Don’t worry about the time: you can sign up to receive a notification any time I publish something. Just enter your email address into the bar at the top of any screen. I’m game for all comments and try to respond to them all. Be forewarned that I reserve Sundays for my family. It’s a work in progress, but a goal we’re all growing into. So, if I don’t respond, I’m probably playing chess with my daughter or watching lousy TV with my wife. On an outstanding day, I might catch a couple innings of Braves baseball. With my wife, of course. It’s Sunday.
Too heavenly to be any earthly good…
My grandparents used to laugh about a guy at their church. They loved him and had him and his wife over to the house for dinner often. But alone with me, they laughed: he’s so heavenly minded, they said, that he’s no earthly good. This is what passed for humor in their home.
But my Grandparents wouldn’t laugh at Christians now, or at friends or families, who separate themselves into these camps, the heavenly and the earthly, putting up fences to keep contamination out. It’s a false dichotomy, of course, one that falls under the umbrella of Jesus’s comment about the face on a silver coin: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give to G the things that are G’s.”
I’ll let you make the comparison and apply it to your own life and decisions, but I’m calling attention here to a verse I read in Proverbs this morning:
Fit out the cavalry for the day of battle, but the victory is Yahweh’s.
This is just precisely where the rubber meets the road, where too heavenly meets too earthly. It’s at this intersection that our faith resides. I’ll paraphrase Proverbs for you: Prepare, and G’s will be done.
Note the verb: we prepare. We train, we study, we fit the horses, we sharpen the swords, and we shine the shield. It’s our part. Even Paul, exhorting new believers to joyfully pray, had to be there, standing on the dais. He did the work to get there, he climbed aboard boats, jostled in the waves and bailed water, and turned sails into the wind. The outcome of his service was in the Father’s hands, but Paul wore the boots.
In another, more personal, story, I was divorced once – I guess when you’re divorced, you’re always divorced – wondering aloud to my father about what steps to take with our kids. He didn’t wonder at all:
“Tell you what Denn,” he said. “You guys do everything you can to sort this out. In the end, five or twenty-five years from now, you will look into your kid’s eyes and have to know that you searched through every pile for a way to make things right. It’s how you live with this.”
Don’t we work too much already?
You can say – and you’d be right – that we do too much already, shoving aside the transforming work of prayer, meditation, and adoration for the needed public work of teaching and delivering meals. But this single verse from Proverbs doesn’t make an all-or-nothing proposition. We do both in their proper place, the heavenly and the earthly. Even outlining a Sunday School lesson, and even when we go over our presentation, we rely on G for the outcome, for touching the hearts of our hearers.
So whether the battle takes place during the fifteen morning minutes before the kids wake up and you want a moment alone in the Gospels, or if it’s support for a lifetime of missions, or if it’s to make sure the car starts on Monday morning, do the work, gird the horse, sharpen your sword. Trust that the end belongs to G. Trust even before you start. Trust, but know that you are called to do your part. To prepare. It’s how our Father shares His work and character with us.
By way of explanation, I label myself as an agnostic Christian. I attend a Southern Baptist church and am comfortable with Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology and all kinds of Protestant thought. For Bibles, I generally use the Jerusalem Bible, the English Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible.
A favorite verse is Micah 6:8 where the prophet says:
G has already told you what is right and what to do: do what is right, love loyalty, and walk humbly with G.