The Advent season is almost upon us and already I am getting tired of people chastising me for my “busyness” in this season of waiting and preparing our hearts. I’ve heard this a million times before. We’re busy this time of year, for crying out loud, we’ve got stuff to do to get ready.
I think maybe the busy is just magnified in this season (imagine!) and so it’s easy to point it out. “See, there you go again, rushing from thing to thing.” Well, I don’t like the rushing and I don’t like the crowds but I do like the doing. I just need to get on it sooner so it doesn’t get to panicked doing. That can get ugly.
People look so forward to this season of doing. There are so many good things to do. It makes us feel so good to be doing them. I don’t think it’s the doing good that’s the problem. I think it’s the doing good for…that does us in. They’re not the same thing.
In this season we justify our doing. We are doing good for God. Or doing good in the name of the coming Savior. Really? Does God need our doing? Are we gonna add to His glory by shining up His image a bit? Nope – this is all about us. Our “need” to do and feel good about what we’re doing.
Nothing wrong with that, unless we invest our goodness in our doing. Because then what we do is only good when it is well-received. That, I believe, is doing for. And it’s not doing for the other, it’s about doing for me. I do, so that I can be received well. I do, so that I can fill that void that wants to be enough but can’t be. I do so that I can be acceptable to the God who comes again in this Holy Season.
The One who says, “Enough already. You can’t be any more than I’ve already made you. So stop trying.”
But Scripture tells us to “do good.” John Wesley famously says,
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
Yes, we are to ‘do good’ and keep doing it. Just take off the “for.” Our good-doing-for is for us. God has set us to doing because we need it. We need to give, without demanding or anticipating or even hoping for reciprocation. We need to let our given gifts be a complete package, opened or not. And leave the “for” to God. To turn our good doing over to God’s will. Then our gifts would be enough. Always. Each gift given in the name of God, would instantly become perfect, just as it is.
Just as He was. Given to us, the “for” already included.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
This scripture is on my mind because my daughter is “doing the talk” for the Fellowship of Christian athletes at her school today and this is ‘her’ verse. Not sure whether she chose it or it was chosen for her.
Anyway, this morning it’s mine. And I embark on my day with a mighty, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” and a voice a bit louder than a whisper says, “just not all at once.” And this gets right to the heart of the matter. There is so much to be done. So many things needed. So many in need. And in the morning I think, “Yes! A new day.” and I look at my to-do list, neatly categorized and boldly written in black pen. And I think, “Yes! I can do that and that and, oh, I really need to do that, too. And then this has been on the list a long time. I really should either do it or take it off the list.” You can see my problem.
I am trying to do all things through me who strengthens me. And I can beat myself up about this. Re-dedicate to be more organized. Cross off a few things to shorten the list. Pray more and see if a Mighty list appears, complete with a numbering system in the left hand column. Or…I can just get started.
Because that’s what occurred to me when I typed this verse. “Strengthens” is a present tense verb. Meaning, I need not wait to be strengthened before doing. It wouldn’t be wise for me to wait for the starting gun to sound. Because God’s strength will be there in the doing. During. Done deal. I just need to look for it there. I can count on this. Anticipate it, even. He won’t hide it; He’s not like that.
Though I must remember, after, to give thanks for the strength that was mine in the moment I was made able. Not to presume on it next time, but perhaps to feel a bit less anxious awaiting it’s arrival.
Which reminds me of this quote from Seth Godin’s blog yesterday:
“If we define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance, we can also understand its antonym, anticipation.”
Anticipating God. He’ll be here, presently. He says so. So, what am I waiting for???