I imagine walking onto a huge field on a sunny day. I know from God that my task is to build a house on this field.
I look in what I’ve been given and see what looks like a mess of items. A 5-pack of shingles, three 2×4 beams, a jar of nails, a box of screws, a few sheets of plywood, and a hammer and a screwdriver. I know I need to build a house, and I’m quite a committed person, so I get started, carefully sorting through my stuff, planning where each piece is going to go, and how I can make this house work out.
A week later, after working really hard each day, I’ve got three walls up, all pieced together from the plywood and precariously balanced with the beams. That afternoon, a huge thunderstorm rolls by, and the rain and wind pelt my ramshackle hut until a huge gust of wind takes down the plywood and my entire week of work is demolished to the ground. “Why, God, why!!?” I cry out. I know He needs me to do this, and yet I feel so helpless and underprepared. I go at it next week with more determination, and not too long afterwards, even my best of efforts are blown away. Maybe I’m in the wrong place? Maybe I need to find a place with less wind and rain.
As I sit there in despair, telling God I won’t make it, I dig around in the box in desperation for anything that could help. There’s a small card for “Joshua’s Contracting Company” with a faded phone number, which I call. Not too long afterwards, trucks start rolling in with materials and workers start laying the foundation. The foreman tells me to nail some beams on one side of the house, and I find in my pile of supplies I have just enough. I happily nail it in, and I get so carried away that I put up some plywood too, just to start the walls off, you know?
The next day I watch the workmen start putting up the walls, and as they get to the plywood I nailed up, they start taking it down. Horrified, I run to the foreman and tell him that they’re undoing my hard work! “No, I told them to do that,” says the foreman. “Unless you do exactly what I say, you’re going to be working against me.” I spend the day drilling some of the screws I have to reinforce some beams, and by the end of the day, you can barely notice that I did anything. Definitely not so impressive.
But you know what? A few months later, I can step back and look at a beautiful house that has been built. Each item I had fit perfectly where it was supposed to fit. It was never ever “my work” or “my plans” that got it accomplished, but simply submitting my own ideas to something that is so much greater. I needed to scale back my own ideas and follow the directions of my foreman, and even though I might not be able to say “I built this house” by the end of the day, but I can definitely say that “This house got built, and I was a part of it.”
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Even Jesus, who had great wisdom and power, submitted to His Father’s will. Who am I, an imperfect person, to say that I know how this is all going to shake out and how to get it done? This lesson has been impressed upon my heart since going to Texas. I remember waking up one day and telling God “OK God, I’m fully committed to you today” and it was as if He was saying back to me “I don’t need you to be committed. I need you to be submitted.” It’s gut wrenching. My commitment is ultimately self-centered, focused on my own achievemets, whereas my submission is fully God-centered, with no glory in it for myself. Submission is when, deep down in my heart, I say “Lord, what do you want me to do?” and whatever He says, to say “Yes Lord, OK. I’ll do it.”
This seems so counterintuitive, but I believe it’s the only way to do God’s work. As I was driving back home tonight, I imagined the road lined with the 80,000 people who passed away in South Asia today without hearing the name of Jesus, and each soul cries out to me to tell them about their Savior. If I tried to tackle the task myself, out of my own commitment, I would surely be daily discouraged and frustrated. But when I can cry out to God and ask Him to send laborers into the harvest, to work mightily, and let Him know that I will do whatever He needs me to do, I’m at peace. I know the foreman knows what He’s doing, that in the end it’s going to be more stately of a house than I could ever have imagined or built just myself.
Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say “We are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty.”
And at the end when I can see everything, all I can say is that I am the bondservant of my Master, and I have just done what I have been told. The only place to ascribe glory is the One who was doing everything all along.
There’s a lot much less pressure on life when I can fully be submitted to God.
P.S. Fundraising is currently at 41%, praise God! Raising the $1878 of monthly pledges is God’s work in the end, and I rejoice in my little part of it.