Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1)
I have big dreams. Today I find myself pacing the upstairs hallway, caught between two voices in my head that whisper separate things. And I don’t know which one is right. I need the wisdom of the Father.
I’ve tried to build this house of dreams on my own. I’ve worked hard—harder than I have ever worked on anything in my life. I’ve forgone sleep and comfort and opportunities in order to pursue this dream. I know one thing clearly: I am meant to do this work. If a woman is given children, God gives with them the responsibility to train and nurture them in the knowledge of truth. So also, since I am given a gift, it is my responsibility to wield it well for the sake of truth.
But I have acted as if I must bear that responsibility on my own, as if I must figure out the key to success through virtue of my own hard work and my own ingenuity. And so I work and I strive and I fight. And the joy leaches from my gift.
If the ax is dull, And one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success. (Ecclesiastes 10:10)
I am very good at pounding away at my projects with a blunt axe. More strength, more time, more effort, more money… If I just had a little more something, I could have the key to success. But what is the use of my strength if my axe is blunt? The axe only mauls the thing it should cut, and I am only left tired and sore for my efforts. Without the wisdom from above, my work has no profit.
How long has my Father been pointing it out to me, and how long have I thought if I just did something more, I would finally reach success?
Speaking of success, I realize I have forgotten the most important question: What is success?
What profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
When I wake, my first thought is, “What brick of my dream should I lay today?” instead of “What does my Father have for me to do this day?” Because of this, I may work very hard, and still miss my purpose. I have made my dream my focus, instead of my God, and I have lost the joy of my dream, because He Himself must be my joy. I have obsessed over the Gift and forgotten the Giver. He gave me this dream. He filled it with possibility and purpose. And He is the only one who can bring it to completion.
I say completion. I do not say success, because I realize now that my definition of success has been skewed. I’ve measured it by man’s standards, and not by God’s. God’s definition of success is far higher and yet somehow so much more real. I am made not simply to produce, but to give the world something of precious worth. I am made not simply for work, but for joy. I am made not simply to live, but to have life abundantly.
I am made to be glad and at rest in my Father’s love, and let Him bring to completion the good work He began in me.
I did not begin it. He did.
I will not finish it. He will.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
I have a promise that, in Him, all my desires will be found.
Even if I reach that shadowy goal I have idolized in my mind, I know that I would not be happy. Even if I meet the world’s definition of success, I would still miss the full joy of the gift He has given me. For He gave it, not simply to bring me happiness or even to bring others happiness through my sharing of it, but to show me more of Himself, to teach me to love Him better and to see Him clearer.
I’ve been running away from that truth, because it seems so counter-intuitive and so wasteful of precious time to simply sit at His feet and listen like Mary, than to rush around and get things done like Martha. But aren’t I wasting time already, by trying to do it all on my own and failing?
Lord, You have given this gift and it is Yours. It is not mine. You have given me means to do beautiful things with it, if I will only trust Your wisdom for guidance. Teach me perseverance, when I must simply work even when no reward is in sight. Teach me patience, when I must wait for strength or direction before pursuing a course.
Father, build my house. Sharpen my axe. Preserve my soul. Be my desire—now and always.
What is the gift, dream, or opportunity that you would most like to use well? Share about it in the comments below, and how it has influenced your relationship with the Lord.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.