I love tasks where I can see immediate results.
This does not include laundry. Because it’s never done.
My husband has allergies, and I often jump at the opportunity to mow our lawn. When the job is finished, I walk up the street from our driveway to the mailbox and admire my work.
Seeing an instant outcome from my efforts means instant satisfaction. Like the gold stars my kindergarten teacher used to put on my handwriting homework, the pristine lawn confirms my job is finished.
Life isn’t always so simple, is it? We pour time and energy into relationships, work, ministry and day-to-day life, often wondering if anything we’re doing is making a difference. When we don’t see progress, we become discouraged.
Sometimes, God gives us a glimpse of the greater plan to keep us moving forward.
These are the moments when everything seems right with the world. But often, we never see the fruit of the seeds we plant and have to rely on our faith to carry us. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians, we must place our hope not in what is seen, but unseen.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV
This is a difficult concept for us to grasp because we are finite beings, and Paul is talking about the infinite character of our Creator. Since we are fallen creatures tainted by sin and death, we may read a passage like this one and wonder if it’s even possible.
I spent many seasons wrestling through these words and asking God to show me how to apply them to my life. I believe it is possible, but it takes time. It means coming continually before Him and surrendering to his Spirit.
Here are three things I remember when I crave visible results, but am not seeing them:
Relationships matter to God.
The time and energy I spend investing into the lives of others is never wasted. But people are not an item on a checklist. Their souls matter. How they spend eternity matters. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t create boundaries with those who take advantage of our compassion or generosity, but we should never forget that all of our stuff, our accolades, news feeds and Facebook accounts will one day disappear. But people won’t.
God is still working in the wait.
Last year, I spent countless hours working on a writing project. I poured my heart and soul into it, only to realize that it would have to be shelved. I questioned whether I should continue pursing certain goals. I wondered if I heard God wrong when he placed the topic on my heart. After spending months wrestling with Him and struggling to find answers, I realized something. During that season, God was working in me. And that work is not wasted. Because the work God does in us often precedes the work he does through us.
When our hearts are aligned with His, He is glorified. Even when no one sees.
He sees the way we love our families and love others. He sees the blood, sweat and tears we pour into a project, even if it’s filed away on our computer. He sees the piles of dishes we wish would simply wash themselves. All of it. Paul states in Colossians to do all of it for him. This isn’t limited to the work that’s witnessed by others. So take heart, and know your efforts will reap an eternal reward.
Sweet friends, I am a work in progress and I struggle with each of these things, day in and day out. But I’m confident his work will continue until the day of Christ Jesus. It’s isn’t all up to me, but his Spirit who moves in me and through me. When I abide in him, he equips me and enables me. And for that, I am forever grateful.