That pesky Rule 2

Rule 2 was “Do the work God gives you.”

You’d think Jesus would have known for sure the work God gave him to do, right? It makes total sense that if you buy he’s God’s Son, then he’d have understood the work God assigned him right from the start.

What do we see? Well, at age 12, he separates from his parents and hangs out in the Temple at Jerusalem and starts by asking wise questions, which eventually become teachings which leave the listeners amazed. At which point his parents find him and say, “What are you doing?” and he says, “But–didn’t you know I’d be in my Father’s house?”

I read that with a shocked tone of voice, as if he had no idea they’d be worried. But after that, he returns home with them, obeys them, learns and grows in grace, and waits another eighteen years.

Therefore it’s not just a matter of doing the work God wants you to do: it’s also a matter of doing it at the right time. Which, in my case, becomes a question of “Is God wanting me to write right now? When I still have my kids to raise?” See, that’s where it all becomes sticky.

We talked here before about how Satan only tempts us with good things, albeit good things we shouldn’t have. That’s why we want them, after all. Most of us aren’t distorted enough inside to want evil for the sake of evil, but most of us want good in a measure we’re not ready for yet, and which might get in the way of the good things God has planned.

In Jesus’s case, I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been to have been growing in grace, not knowing how much more he had to grow (you never do: at the peak of your growth, you always think, “This is as high as it gets” until you peak again) and having wisdom to share but only sharing it with a hundred or so people who happened to be around him. Wondering if God would ever call him to preach to more, or whether the humbling work he had to do was simply to live his entire life in obscurity and not share what he had to share.

And THEN the call: time to set down the T-square and the hammer and head over to the Jordan to be baptized and preach to everyone.

The work God gave him and the time God had chosen.

God generally puts our work right in front of us. We generally look past it for the better work we know we’re capable of doing. But sometimes, the work God gave us to do is the laundry or putting a band-aid on an ouch. And when that happens, that’s the best work to be doing at the moment.

It’s also the toughest, I write as I look at two loads of unwashed laundry.


  1. Deb

    This resonates with me so much. I have a full-time job, a marriage, and two children under 4. Yet I have so many good things I want to do with my time! Writing, getting a master’s degree, professional development…all good things, all things I’m sure the Lord wants me to do, but all things that take me away from my family.

    I think patience is one of those ways we are tested. It doesn’t seem right, but putting our own timetable before His would be the ultimate sin of pride, right?

  2. Ken Rolph

    “But sometimes, the work God gave us to do is the laundry”

    Years back, during a Tech Boom, I was working with a group of consultants creating software for Australia’s largest companies. Opportunities were expanding, but actual cash was thin on the ground. People wanted to pay me with shares. I ended up with several thousand shares at a time when they were $45. But I was dubious about it. I could see inside the companies and thought they were mostly hot air. In fact when I look back on it now I see that none of the divisions that I work with are in actual existence. Even some of the companies have been merged or bought out. As the price of the shares started to plunge I sold them, getting an average of $22. I note that the few companies that are still around today have share prices of between $5 and $3. So I did get something before it all crashed. Paid off the house and credit cards.

    At about the same time the kids got established in their careers and moved out. Our water and electricity bills dropped by half and our phone bill by two thirds. Jan was still teaching and we discovered one day when we got money from the ATM that we hadn’t even touched her last salary. Then there was a massive hailstorm which smashed in our roof and car. Water was running through the light fittings directly into the keyboard of the laptop.

    The insurance company gave us a new care immediately and sent a team of blokes. We got a new roof, with proper insulation. A lovely couple came and dried out our carpets, steam cleaned the blinds and dry cleaned the curtains. They repainted every ceiling in the house. Jan mentioned to the repairers that she didn’t like our small porch, but always wanted a classic bull-nosed Australian veranda. They said, well, we’ll build you one.

    It’s been a full life so far. I always thought that God wanted me to write, but everything else seemed to get in the way. But today I am sitting here at the keyboard. I don’t need to work. I don’t have any responsibilities for church or other groups. No one in the family needs care. There’s nothing standing between me and doing what I think God called me to do.

    It’s the most terrifying thing that I’ve ever faced.

    I have no excuse. I can’t say, well I would have done such and such, except for what got in the way. Nothing gets in the way. I’m naked in the light, exposed. I’m in the place I always wanted to be and it’s not comfortable. Now I want to be somewhere else.

    I’ve just realised that the lawn needs mowing. Safe again.

  3. Lane in PA

    “Just think – the grass grows. Out of the bliss sheath comes the wisdom sheath and the grass grows. Then every 2 weeks someone comes along with a lawn mower and cuts the grass down.

    Suppose the grass were just to think ‘Ah shucks, what’s all the fuss about? I quit!'”

    Joseph Campbell, The Pathways to Bliss.

    The grass always grows back. It never gives up.

  4. Lane in PA

    I think this comment was meant to for an earlier post…about lawn mowing. But maybe it might serve some purpose here.

  5. Colleen

    Living in the present moment. So beautiful but hard to do. And I am reminded of what Mother Teresa said – (paraphrasing) – you don’t need to do great things, just little things with great love! God bless.

  6. Ken Rolph

    “Out of the bliss sheath comes the wisdom sheath and the grass grows.”

    This sounds very noble, but the reality is more prosaic. Grass grows from the base, not the tip. That’s why we can eat steak and mutton. If grass grew from the tip, grazing animals would finish it off in one go and there would be no prairies, no paddocks.

    I noted when cutting the grass that it is looking a little autumnal. The tips are beginning to get dry and brown. So sutting them off regularly is a kind of cleansing and renewal. The attention of the grass is not on the bit which gets cut, it’s lower down where the action is occuring.

    Cutting grass is sort of like cutting hair or trimming fingernails. When you trim your toenails do you feel life is ll to hard, and want to quit?