Refuse to be Productive
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”
-Psalm 77:11 NIV
I’m sitting alone, feet propped up, and doing something that I need to do a lot more of… reflecting!
We are living during times that highly value productivity, efficiency, technology, and whose focus is always forward, especially in the Silicon Valley where I live. Anything in the PAST is almost unconsciously relegated as unimportant at worst, or something to improve at best. Savoring, reflecting, pondering, and enjoying what’s been accomplished is at odds with the fast-paced, make it happen, FUTURE focus.
Far from being critical, I have to fight those tendencies myself because I’m an activator and futuristic by nature. I tend to concentrate far more on the FUTURE than the PAST, and left TO myself, I can become addicted to productivity rather than genuine progress.
I know it may sound crazy, but I can get so busy, and so passionate about WHAT STILL NEEDS TO HAPPEN, that I can miss the beauty of what God is ALREADY doing each and every day.
On the table in front of me is a pile of seemingly unrelated correspondence. A small blue envelope contains a card. In it, a woman named Lindsay shares how the teachings of Living on the Edge over the past 10 years has drawn her closer to God and His design for her life. She expresses her gratitude for our team’s investment in her. “Thanks for sharing with me the wisdom He has given you,” she writes on a small card with her name embossed at the top. Opening a card and seeing her name signed with the bold letters reminded me that our ministry touches individuals, with unique journeys, growing with us for quite some time.
Under Lindsay’s card is a stack of little booklets that Bob sent me. He shared his story as a young art student searching for life and meaning, but not discovering a relationship with Jesus until he hit rock bottom at age 45. In his card, Bob thanks me for our radio series about teaching others how to share their faith. He says, “Your series inspired these four little booklets that include my artwork of me sharing my faith with family and friends.”
Underneath that stack is a Moody Publishers book written by a faithful pastor in Connecticut thanking us “for the way that your ministry has wonderfully and powerfully impacted my life and walk with Jesus.” He’s been married and in ministry for 30 years sharing Christ in one of the most challenging areas of our country.
And below his book is a stack of emails. These all came in randomly during the past few days while I was out of the office. I had my usual to-do list, but I sensed the Holy Spirit nudge me to stop, take the time to pause to read their stories, and REFLECT.
My perspective and the hurry in my soul began to dissipate as I read and ponder how God is speaking to them, encouraging them, changing them, and amazingly using them to extend His love to others.
Angie’s email said, “I bought the little Genius of Generosity books for my Bible study. We read a chapter each week and listened to the sermons. And they loved it!” She then disclosed, “I started giving anonymously, and it’s filled my soul with such peace and joy as I’ve learned it’s really about the heart—and His heart.” I love that! I picture a group of people reading that little book and dreaming up ways to be generous to people in their family, at work, and in their neighborhoods. It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the Kingdom of God like a mustard seed… starting very small and multiplying in ways to provide provision and protection for others. What a joy!
Just behind that email is one from a pastor in Hawaii named Andrew who listed the 12 small group studies he’s taken his church through in the past few years. He wanted to thank me and our team for the impact it’s had on their lives and the Honolulu Police Department, where he’s been a volunteer chaplain for 35 years.
Well, I think you get the idea of what can happen when you begin to reflect and ponder on what God has done and I want to give you that opportunity as well.
In this month’s Coffee Break audio, I do a brief teaching from Acts: 13-14, in which the early church leaders Paul and Barnabas made it a super-high priority to come back to their home base in Antioch and share the wonderful things God had done on their first missionary journey. They realized, as we do, that it was a group effort. Yes, Paul and Barnabas did the traveling and the preaching, but they were SENT by God’s people, FINANCED by God’s people, and PRAYED for by God’s people, and they came home to share the fruits of what God had done through their collective effort and God’s empowering grace.
In similar fashion, we want to take this month to share with you the amazing things God has done in recent months through our “collected effort” and the empowering grace of God.
The year 2020 is not a year to simply put behind us and forget. It’s one where God’s power and grace met deep challenges, relational and financial struggles, health issues, and spiritual opposition—and, in the midst of it all, accomplished eternal things that will never make it to the front page of a newspaper or become the top story on the nightly news. We must intentionally stop, ponder, remember, and thank God for His work in and through us in this difficult time.
It’s not lost on me that the fifth book of the Bible has one reoccurring word to the children of God coming out of 40 years of challenge to prepare them to embrace His will in the days ahead: REMEMBER. Deuteronomy literally means “second law,” as Moses is reminding this next generation to REMEMBER the past and learn from it, grow from it, and reflect on it, so they might more fully trust God in the future.
I wish you could be sitting with me in the office right now. No one’s here, because it’s officially closed, but I had to pick up a few things and I noticed the mail sitting on my desk. As I began opening the cards, reading the letters, and contemplating the many stories of how God has used our collective efforts to accomplish His will in these challenging times, my heart was filled with gratitude and thanksgiving to our great God. It was also filled with gratitude for you, your prayers, your letters, your emails, your gifts, and your lives lived out in your spheres of influence each and every day, making what often feels like only a small difference. But in reality, our collective micro decisions and actions are making a macro impact on the lives of people here and all around the world.
“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
-Psalm 77:12 NIV
I invite you to pour yourself a non-virtual cup of coffee or tea, read this letter slowly and then listen to the Coffee Break audio. Afterwards, refuse to be productive for an hour or two. Instead reflect, ponder, give thanks, and enjoy the goodness of our God as He lives out His love and life through such ordinary people as you and me.
I’m so grateful to get to partner with you in helping Christians live like Christians so that our world might know and understand the height and depth and length and breadth of the love of Christ.
Pressing ahead together,
CEO and Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge