December 21, 2012
"Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NIV)
Do you ever look around at other women and wonder how in the world they get so much done?
It's frustrating to feel that you are somehow falling behind, or missing out on all the things you want to accomplish because you just can't seem to make it happen.
So I started to analyze why it was others seemed to get more done than I did. Why did they reap more than me?
Was I just not cut out to run at as fast a pace as them?
I suspect there may be some truth to that. We all know people we'd classify as "high energy." Note: I'm energetic, but I'm not one of those perky morning people that I
dislike, uh, er ...admire. Okay, envy.
Was I just in a different season of life? I still have kids in the home - kids who cannot drive. Certain seasons of mothering or care-taking can be busier.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these were not the full crux of my problem.
No, the crux of my problem was waiting for everything to be perfect before I moved forward. If I didn't feel I could do something "right," I often didn't do it at all. If I couldn't control each move, or the outcome, I waited rather than began. And that meant a lot of things sat either un-started or unfinished.
Home improvement projects.
Even my elaborate study-the-Bible plans.
I spent a lot of time waiting until I felt fully ready, and all conditions seemed ripe before I would begin. That was a lot of time wasted. In fact, when I reflect on the things I have accomplished in life, I'm not sure I've ever felt fully ready for any of them when I started.
I wanted ideal conditions. A primary lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes is learning to distinguish between the things we have control over, and the things we don't. For instance, we can't control the weather, the aging process, or the job market. Trying to control such things is futile. And waiting for the climate, our appearance or the work industry to be perfect before we embark on our dreams is just as useless.
Will we never plan a picnic because it could rain? Will we not bother exercising because we're going to die at some point? Will we put off training for that new job we've always wanted because the economy could turn?
The message of Ecclesiastes 11:4 is: Stop procrastinating! Don't be overly cautious. Quit waiting on perfection. Staring at the clouds stops you from sowing, which ultimately limits your reaping.
True, the conditions might not be perfect. Your efforts might fail. Or they might have to be repeated for months before they yield significant results. But they also might succeed! And you don't know in advance what is going to work.
Nothing will work, however, if we do not.
We can't control the rain, the locusts of life, or the size of our harvest. But we control the planting. And nothing grows that isn't first planted with energy and fertilized with prayer.
Ecclesiastes teaches us our inability to control the future should lead us into diligent work, not into depressed daydreaming while we watch clouds - and others - go by.
While we can't control everything, we can do something about one thing. She who stares at the clouds - waiting - does not reap. But she who plants, reaps.
Dear Lord, forgive me for the time I've wasted waiting for ideal conditions. Waiting until I felt sure I could succeed. I want to move out in faith. I want to plant and reap. I want to be a good steward of the time and opportunities You afford me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Lose the long list of resolutions — all your sweeping promises to change — and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. In Rachel Olsen's newest book, My One Word, she and co-author Mike Ashcroft lead you in choosing just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. Pick up your copy by clicking here!
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Reflect and Respond:
What have you been putting off doing?
How does procrastination, fear, or perfectionism prevent you from being a good steward of God's opportunities and callings?
Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)
Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)
© 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 21 December 2012.