Avoiding Useless Effort
“If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless; if the Lord does not protect the city, it does no good for the sentries to stand guard.” Psalm 127: 1
I once tried my hand at knitting, but didn’t have the patience for it. When I noticed I’d dropped a stitch, I wasn’t willing to go back and pick it up. I wanted to finish the sweater, not waste time retracing what I had already done. So I ignored the dropped stitch and kept on clicking those needles. As the sweater emerged, I found that all my knitting was only creating a bigger hole. Full speed ahead got me nowhere; it only magnified what was wrong. It was either go back and do it right, or abandon the project. I found I didn’t really like knitting. I liked having a hobby that created gifts for other people. The results weren’t pretty.
I think it’s like that with many of the efforts we make, even when our goals are nobler than choosing a hobby. We’re probably not as shortsighted as I was with my knitting experiment, but forging ahead on tasks that are not grounded in God’s wisdom are probably doomed to be ineffective. When eagerness drives us relentlessly and we feel frustrated at every turn, it’s possible that our efforts may be counter-productive to God’s plan for us. Praying to know God’s will and referring to appropriate resources in the pre-planning stage can help us discern whether our project is worth pursuing as well as how to go about it. The time this takes is not wasted time.
Prayer: Please, Lord, guide our efforts today.
Reflection for sharing: Think of a task or project you took on in the past. How did it turn out? What did your pre-planning preparation look like? How can that experience help you with future planning?