My daughter exited the girls’ bathroom at school looking disappointed.
We were there for an after school program and I was ready to rush on home, but I stopped the frantic backpack grabbing and asked her what was wrong.
“I was hoping I’d find some money in the bathroom.”
Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this.
Was there typically money in the girls’ bathroom at school?
Was this an income source I wasn’t aware of?
Did the child so desperately need money that she actually searched public restrooms for stray dollar bills or coins?
No, it turns out she wanted to win the Citizenship Award at school and this particular month’s award was on the character trait: Honesty.
So, this girl of mine thought the best way to win an award for Honesty was to find money in the school bathroom and hand it in. This seemed like a sure-fire strategy.
Only, no one seemed to be losing their money in the bathroom that month.
Now, I totally applaud the singular focus of this child and the strategic way she was thinking about her actions and how they fit (or didn’t) the character trait of the month.
But at the same time, I feel like our character should be honest, respectful, or kind with or without an award.
If a teacher notices that, then great! A button and certificate are a special honor.
Yet, Jesus is watching always. No need to force this or manipulate it into happening. No need to plan out possible award-winning scenarios or plot out the best avenue for success.
I’m taking this to heart really, because I feel nagged by my own ambition and the expectations of others to force my future.
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Yes, there is wisdom in working hard and working wise.
How often, though, am I trying to force God’s hand?
Am I working myself right out of dependence on His favor and His blessing and right into self-made me?
I have one definition of success: God’s pleasure.
I have one strategy for achieving that: Obedience.
In the Bible, Rebecca knew all along that her younger son (Jacob) would topple the natural order of things and receive his father’s blessing and birthright instead of the older son (Esau).
But she didn’t trust God to make it happen.
Instead, she tricked and lied and cheated her way into “success.”
Oh, Jacob is no innocent, of course. He was old enough to stand up to his mom when she told him to put on goat hair and his brother’s clothes, take in a meal she had prepared and deceive his blind and aging father into blessing him as the firstborn.
Maybe he remembered what these deceptive tactics cost him.
After all, decades later, Jacob was the aging father blessing his own sons and grandsons when Joseph brought in his two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48).
And old-man Jacob kept getting it ‘wrong.’
He treated the younger son like the older son and vice versa. It was backwards and mixed up.
So, Joseph tried to correct his dad. “No, dad, this is my oldest son and that one is the younger.”
Jacob wouldn’t budge, though.
See how God did that?
God spoke and it was. The younger son received the older son’s blessing without props, costumes, a grand deception or Rebecca’s elaborate schemes.
God just did it because He wanted to do it.
Beth Moore says,
The significant point is that when God seems to be prompting something out of the ordinary, we don’t have to manipulate things to make it happen and cause people to accept it. (Believing God, p. 96).
What freedom is this?
If God has declared it, He will do it. We can be part of that plan, but the plan never depends on us to make it happen; it all depends on Him.
If God has called you, obey by taking the next step and stop worrying about the end destination.
Our job is simply obedience, the beautiful call to trust and obey. We take those steps of faith, we give our every effort to answer His calling, but we leave the results in His hands.
If we see money in the bathroom, we hand it in. But we don’t stress over it if the money isn’t there!
We write. We work. We minister. We stay faithful. But we don’t try to manipulate results or manufacture ‘success.’
We just live honest. Live faithful. Live disciplined. Live holy. Live with compassion and mercy. Live humbly.
Live for Jesus.
And leave our lives and our future all in His quite-capable hands.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King