Shownotes. When You’ve Given it All You’ve Got—Now What?
Have you ever worked hard on something, planning and executing down to the smallest detail? You were so sure it would have a tremendous impact. It follows. You’ve given all you’ve got . . . and then . . . . It is not that it didn’t go well. It was just that . . . . Even though it went exactly as you anticipated or close, at least the logistics of it. But, its impact? Dubious. Now what?
Or, maybe you’ve preached your heart out Sunday after Sunday, and Sunday after Sunday. Perhaps you teach in church or elsewhere. Teaching is your call from God. You prepare time after time.
We have to remember that although harvest follows seed time, there is a span of time that passes between seedtime and harvest. Moreover, you may not be the one to reap the harvest. 1 Corinthians 3:6–7 – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
However, What if the issue is not the time period between seed time and harvest but the issue is us?
Here is what I mean. You’ve given all that you’ve got, but, have you given all that God gave you to give? Is the issue you, is the issue me, is it us?
Sometimes in our ministries, even in our lives, what we do is all about our ideas, our heart—what we want. We put these out there and then we ask God to bless them. The question is, have we first checked to find out what God wants us to do, what God wants to happen?
You’ve given all you’ve Got and displaced God because of your assumptions
- What we want is what God wants so we don’t need to check with God.
- In our zeal we forget to check with God. We are teeming with ideas and we move without seeing which idea God wants us to move with. Or, in our zeal we search every possible place for ideas but do not ask God.
- We’re anxious to do well before people. Or, we may be anxious because we don’t want to miss the deadline. It is easier at that point to just say a quick prayer and move on to action. We prayed, we made our acknowledgment of God. Now, let’s get down to business.
- Given God a token.
Seeking God so that we give all that God wants rather than all we’ve got requires more than a cursory prayer. It requires time.
You’ve given all you’ve got and displaced God because of your independence
- It can seem silly and/or superfluous to depend on God in this way of which we’re speaking. We may think that because our brains, creativity, drive, etc come from God, all we have to do is make a plan and run with it. Isn’t that what we’re to be doing?
- This is more of an acknowledgment that keeps us independent.
- Dependent waiting is truly seeking God, pausing to hear from God in a way that puts our reliance on God rather than just moving because we could; because we have the knowledge, because we have the capability.
- If everything we have comes from God, then, what better way to show our appreciation than to turn it all back to God? As David said in 1 Chronicles 29:14, “‘But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”’
- Let us offer everything to God for God to direct and bless, for God’s transformative power to work through us.
- It is so easy to do everything and give everything to the task, to give to the people without first giving it to God and then allowing God to show us how God would have us use these gifts in each situation.
- We are told we should be able to stand on our own. Independence is an extolled quality. Unfortunately, it gets between us and serving God in a manner that allows God to be God.
That’s why in the midst of our zeal and anxiety, we must pause and wait. Wait on the Lord. As we say at the beginning of this, from Isaiah 40; when we wait on the Lord, the Lord will renew our strength. Not only that God will show us what our minds could never comprehend on their own.
You’ve given all you’ve got with your limitations
- As we prepare and execute our plans, as we preach and teach, or whatever we do in ministry and in life we can only plan for what we know. That’s when we’re doing it in our own strength and knowledge. That’s our limitation. However, God knows beyond that. God sees and knows all.
- It is better to depend on this God rather than on our limited selves.
- Remember, the change we seek, the change that people need; the place God desires to touch is beyond what we can see and feel. Nevertheless, it is not beyond God.
- Spiritual depletion is real. However, it is easy to miss it. Yet, when we start to ask the question, what now, after you’ve given it your all, after we have given our all, once we dig deeply enough we come up with spiritual depletion, that is without the pause, without the dependence. Hence, when we fail to depend on God, we are ultimately engaging in self-defeating ministry.
- We forget so easily that God is the ultimate creator and when we rely on God we never run dry.
So let us not displace God with our self-reliance.
Now there will be times when we have to make a snap decision. That is why it comes down to living from God’s center.
When we are living from God’s center, we will be living a life of dependence on God, intentional moments of connection as well as ongoing communication with God. We will enjoy a connection with God that will allows us to make a snap decision, take a snap action in keeping with what God wants, if the situation calls for that..
Think about it. We have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility—the care of souls. We can rely on our own capabilities and displace God. We can do so even as we acknowledge that everything we have comes from God. Or, we can move from displacing God with assumptions based on zeal and anxiety and independence to pausing and consciously seeking and depending on God as we execute God’s ministry.
Pray over our sermons and activities before writing one word or taking one action. Be sure to hear from God. Bathe our planning, preparation and delivery in prayer, always attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray for those to whom we are. Let us give all as God gives us. What now?
Wait for God to us give the increase. And God will do so for God is faithful.
This calls for faith that allows us to rest in God’s assurance that after we have done all that God has required of us, God will do the remainder. We may or may not see it. Furthermore, some soil will be good ground. Some will not. Nevertheless, we go forth confident in God and not ourselves.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved (Psalm 127:1–2).
And now for our practical tip:
Think of something major that you have coming up. Spend time praying about it specifically and commit to allowing God to direct each aspect of it. Listen for what the Lord will say and remember, that not every good thing is God’s thing for you.
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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Music: “A True Friend” by Josh Molen
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