Have you ever felt guilty for pressing towards a career or a ministry or an artistic expression that you enjoy? I’m guilty. It’s almost as if I thought pleasure and enjoyment were signs of disobedience and sin. This is the result of the church’s representation of God in my childhood.
When your pastor reads the praises of Psalms in deep monotone, you learn to hear words of joy and celebration as somber and pompous. And then when you get to living your own adult life, actual fun and delight feel bad. Because that’s not what God is about, right?
There’s this juxtaposition we struggle to come to terms with. On the one hand, we are called to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. That involves death to self, ambition, fame, and the like. But on the other hand, God gave us all talents to invest wisely.
If you are naturally talented at learning musical instruments and you focus your life on accounting, how have you invested your talents wisely? How is that any different than the servant who was gifted one talent, who then buried it, and presented it back to his master with no growth or interest because he was afraid to use it and lose it?
I was naturally gifted as a communicator, but I took on a supplementary discipline that required analysis, reporting, and meticulous data maintenance. Not at all my natural wheelhouse.
God redeems everything and He will cause everything to work out for your good, but that doesn’t mean you used your time the best way possible. Using completely random numbers, God can make a 10% return on your completely off-the-path efforts, but He may have made a 250% return on your natural talent properly invested with maximum effort.
Sometimes we fight against our God-given purpose because we’re convinced that God isn’t good enough to really want us to do what brings us joy. So we slog it out in some pit of futility calling our suffering “our sacrifice”.
Sometimes we absolutely learn humility and faithfulness in a wilderness. But sometimes we create the wilderness because we don’t know if God is truly good in the way we wish He was.
But what if God is better than you think? What if you’re assumptions are costing you?