Wednesday, July 7, 2010

At the Crossroads of Labor and Obsession

I’d been working on a particular manuscript for weeks, making it the primary focus of my writing day. Intended completion was prior to Independence Day and as June drew to a close I became obsessed with it.

Tomato plants that hadn’t quite made it into the ground languished in the garage, dishes towered near the sink, it looked like Hansel and Gretel had been wandering in circles under my kitchen table, and the grandkids visited with the understanding that I couldn’t give undivided attention to them.

Re-write finished, I sent it off, and was immediately caught up in Fourth of July celebrations and an unexpected free day with my husband. Now that the dust has figuratively and literally settled, I’m taking some time to think and sweat in the brilliant 90-degree heat. I wonder, what is the difference between steadfast labor and obsession?

I asked this question over the holiday and God caught my attention with today’s devotional through the words of A.B. Simpson. “If we wholly trust an interest to God, we must keep our hands off it; and He will guard it for us better than we can help Him…. There is nothing so masterly as inactivity in some things, and there is nothing so hurtful as restless working, for God has undertaken to work His sovereign will.”

I had been rather pleased with myself for the “masterly inactivity” of not worrying about the end results of how the manuscript would be received, but I felt a definite ouch to think of harm caused by my “restless working”.

There had been a few days when my spirit was unsettled, I couldn’t be still, yet I couldn’t pinpoint the distraction. What daily purpose did I miss by working restlessly? Whose life did I fail to touch because of my obsession? Maybe it was only a reassurance for myself, or a personal blessing that I lost. Even so, can I afford to snub God’s gifts or brush aside his encouragement? I think not.

As I contemplate my next project it’s easy to think I need to start sooner or be more disciplined. In truth, something else entirely is required. I need to sit at the Master’s feet and listen more. I need to cling on my Beloved’s arm and look into His eyes. I need to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

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