Do your work!
The message came through to me loud and clear, and no, it wasn’t issued from my 2nd grade teacher.
It was just days ago, Ash Wednesday to be exact, and I was participating in an online service with a group of precious ones with whom I travel.
“What is hard, heavy, clunky, weighing you down?” my friend and facilitator asked the group of us.
“Uncertainty, fears, questions,” I penned in my journal.
You see, my word of the year is ’embark,’ and I am doing just that. I am embarking on several new ventures:
- Hubby and I are rearranging our entire home and downsizing to our little basement apartment in order to open more space for hospitality and community.
- I am beginning to write my books.
My ship has left the dock in vulnerable fashion. I am embarking. But the questions circling around the uncertainties in all of this pull on me like an anchor, weighing me down, slowing my progress.
- What if people don’t come?
- What if my books are no good?
- What if we’re not received?
- What if we don’t have what it takes?
- What if there’s no welcome for who we are or what we bring?
My friend’s next set of questions broke into my thoughts: “What invitations do you want to tend in this season of Lent?” she asked. “Is there anything you want to shed?”
My immediate response: “Shed the questions!”
Shed the questions! They are not of the helpful variety. What will be will be.
And then I heard it. The voice of the Spirit ringing loud and clear within me:
Do your work!
Jenny, dear, tend to your work! Let lie the questions. What will be will be. Give them no mind. Do your work!
The next morning found me thinking about a man by the name of Nehemiah who was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Doing what was his to do, he met resistance. Describing it in his own words, Nehemiah said:
“2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message,
‘Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.’
But they were scheming to harm me;
so I sent messengers to them with this reply:
‘I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.
Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?’
Four times they sent me the same message,
and each time I gave them the same answer.”
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking,
‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’
But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’”
(Nehemiah 6: 1-9)
At one point in this whole situation, Nehemiah responded to the threats, accusations, and distractions with a sentence worthy of memorization:
“There’s nothing to what you’re saying. You’ve made it all up.”
And then he did his work.
What a brilliant response when our fears, questions, and uncertainties are talking incessantly in our ears, pulling us away from what is ours to do, slowing us to a stop.
Friend, what negative messages are being sent repeatedly to you? Do you engage them? Give them the time of day? What is their intent? And what is their effect?
When I sat with the Spirit and my constant questions, the response I heard was this:
Jenny, daughter, let those questions lie. They are neither here nor there. Give them no mind. Do your work.
Do Your Work! Our Little Life Words of the week.
- What hinders you from doing your work?
- Do you expend wasted energy entertaining fears instead of just doing the work that is before you?
- What do your negative messengers say?
- Each time Nehemiah was sent a harmful or distracting message, he replied to them in the same way – no drama, no loss of energy. In light of this, construct a reply in advance that you can use when your own negative messengers arrive.
- Our song of the week is: Establish the Work of our Hands by The Porter’s Gate.
- When you approach a task, ask God to strengthen your hands for the work set before you.
Sign up to receive these “Little Life Words” in your inbox each Monday morning: https://jennygehman.com/little-life-words