I was unhappy at work. I resented it. I felt unmotivated, tired and sad. I just didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t see the point.
I thought to myself, “If I were to do this everyday, it wouldn’t make any difference. I’d look up in ten years and be no better off and no further ahead. I’m going nowhere with this.”
I then asked myself what type of work would make me happy or would make doing it worthwhile? My answer: the kind of work that makes a lot of money, millions preferably. And, there was no way that I could see getting there doing what I’m doing now. The thought left me feeling stuck, without hope and dejected.
Then, I felt convicted and it occurred to me that my attitude about my work was out of line with God’s Word. Colossians 3:23 commands “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” But, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s impossible for me to obey this command. I can do the work, but I can’t do it from the heart (“heartily”) because I can’t want what I don’t want. That realization was a heart check and prompted the question from Genesis 3:9 where God asks Adam, “Where are you?” It made me consider whether I am in the flesh or the spirit. A preoccupation with materials things is a dead giveaway that I’m in the flesh but how did I get here? What moved me?
In the past, such states of discontent were triggered by feelings of inadequacy brought on by comparing myself to others or frustration with not being able to do something -namely, not being able to afford it. As I examined myself, I could not find any indication that covetousness was at play (this time). I couldn’t find where I was comparing myself to anyone. Then I contemplated whether I was frustrated. I determined that I was but what am I frustrated about? What brought this on?
Weeks back, we buried my Uncle John Jr. and death has a way of making you re-evaluate. One of my greatest desires is to be in a position to take care of my parents in what should be their golden years. My Uncle’s death was an urgent reminder that the clock was ticking, my parents are aging and I am nowhere near being ready financially. At the time, I did not recognize that these thoughts were even occurring. So, I did not bring these thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), that is, I did not evaluate whether their implications were lies that contradicted the truth of what God says. I was caught unaware and anxiety was sown in my heart.
Anxiety is a nasty demon –the hellish spawn of pride and fear. Pride makes you bigger than God and fear makes God smaller than your problem -a particularly potent and deadly combination. And that’s precisely where I’ve found myself, wrestling frantically with a problem bigger than I can handle, because what I think of God is so small.
How much has God brought me through? How many times have I been in need and He delivered? Time and time again God has sent who and what I need to get me where He wants me to be -every time. Every good thing I have is because of Him. So, why don’t I trust Him and would rather trust in uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17)?
I am glad, yes, glad that I don’t have millions of dollars because I’m obviously still at a level of maturity where I’d be foolish enough to trust it, become a slave to it, hurt others to keep it and probably jump out of a window if I lost it (1 Timothy 6:6-9). Instead, I want to be like Job who said, “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21) or “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). I want to be like Paul who said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) I don’t want satisfaction that’s dependent on my circumstances. Whether I’m CEO of a billion dollar corporation or peeling potatoes in a prison, I want to be just as full of His inexpressible joy, immovable, with the peace of God ruling in my heart.
Truthfully, it’s not that I’d rather trust uncertain riches than God. It’s that I was not vigilant and allowed something to distract me from my focus on God and I sank. I sank into my flesh and leaned to my own understanding rather than trusting Him. I moved from walking in the peace of the Spirit to allowing anxiety to make me discontent. What does God say about anxiety? “Be anxious for nothing” and then continues “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” -Philippians 4:6. I failed to do the second part that prevents the first. I failed to be prayerful in everything. All prayer requires is to start by being honest about where I am and begin it with “Lord”. These two statements: “I am afraid I won’t have enough to take care of my parents” and “Lord, I am afraid I won’t have enough to take care of my parents” are similar but lead to very different places.
I repent and am resolved to be more vigilant to pray at all times, about all things and trust God. I trust that God is not merely some ethereal concept, but a real person with real power who is good and can indeed work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). So, I can be joyful and faithful with what’s in front of me, confident that He will work all things out and order my steps in the appropriate course of action (Psalm 37:23) to bring Him glory because that is what I want, or should want, above all.
It is a true and faithful saying that I cannot want what I do not want. So, when I find myself not wanting what He wants (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) or unable to want what He commands, I need a new heart. My prayer today is, “Lord, please give me a heart to want what You want. Give me a heart that delights in You, that enjoys and is completely satisfied with every good and perfect thing that is in You. I ask these things following the pattern of your Son Jesus the Christ (in His name) and for His sake. Amen.”