Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
It’s really easy for me to wait for the next big thing. It’s a habit of mine, actually. When I was in middle school, I couldn’t wait to be in high school; when I was in high school, I was chomping at the bit for college. Then, of course, I’d have my eyes set on graduation, followed by a ubiquitous backpacking trip around Europe, then work, and then marriage. In the heat of all those moments, I was mostly moving with my finger on the fast-forward button, eager to move on to what’s next.
It’s as though I’ve spent so much of my life in the waiting room, thinking that beyond those next doors lay the greener pastures.
It’s easy for me to still do this with my work, as a writer and blogger. Working for myself has its numerous privileges, of course, and I daily thank God for the ability to make a living from something I’d do for free because I love it so much. But if you’ve spent more than half an hour on the Internet lately, you know how hard it is to turn it off and reengage in the three-dimensional world. The Internet, my workplace, is a behemoth of a thing, and it never ends.
Because it never ends, it’s mighty tempting to constantly do “One More Thing.” One more tweet. One more pinboard. One more comment left on one more blog. One more post idea that requires just a bit more research, a few more links.
And on and on it goes. The work never ends.
When we are blessed enough to love our work, it’s easy to continually work on more, more, more. When we love the tasks before us, we want to work. God made us to work, so why shouldn’t we work hard? Goodness, what a blessing to love working hard!
But I think there’s a subtle difference between loving to work hard and working hard simply for more. It’s tackling that never-ending to-do list because you want to arrive somewhere, because you think (like that middle school student who’s sure in high school lie all the answers) once you’ve summited that mountain, you’ll finally be content. It’s the difference between working hard to earn enough and working hard to have the ever elusive more.
Psalm 37:4 is well-known, right? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. But we often skim past verse three, just before: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” Trust, do, dwell, befriend. Do good. Dwell in the land. Befriend faithfulness. The actions here, done on our part, speak of being present where we are and where he has us.
Work is more of a blessing when it is contrasted with rest. When I dwell in the land today, I can freely choose to rest after the day’s work. I can honor the cycle God has given us of work, rest, work, rest. Love my work, yes. But trust that he has tomorrow under control. I need only to cultivate faithfulness for today, and to dwell, faithfully, in the land.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Is it a challenge for you to “dwell in the land” in your work? What’s your experience in setting healthy long-term goals, while still focusing on the day’s work set before you? Where, for you, is that subtle line drawn between working for the love of working and working for the always-elusive “more”? How does it look to befriend faithfulness in your work?
PRAYER: God, help me to remember to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness today. You’ve got tomorrow under control, and you’ve asked me only to trust you and your goodness. Help me focus, trust, and remain diligent, so that my day’s labor honors you. Bless me with faith where I lack it. Amen.
Tsh Oxenreider is the main blogger behind The Art of Simple, a blog dedicated to the art and science of living simpler. Tsh is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler, and Organized Simplicity. Tsh also records a podcast with Homefries called The Art of Simple Podcast, which during one week ranked second under NPR’s This American Life as most listened-to podcasts.Tsh is also an advocate for Compassion International, is a regular contributor at (in)courage, and is an A-List Expert with Real Simple magazine. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe.