Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
These verses have been my constant companion as we launched Reconciled World. Such basic truths, few of us would debate them, but do we live them? As an organisation we identified seven principles that we want to hold ourselves accountable to – you’ll find them in the Our Approach section. One of those principles is ‘Pursuing God’s Ways’. It encapsulates so much but basically means that we want to intentionally seek to start with the bible rather than relying solely on human wisdom. These verses start to demonstrate what a contrast the two can be.
Everything you’ll read, especially about starting a new organisation or business, implies that to be successful you need to work day and night. Articles that tell you rising early and staying up late are in vain are definitely few and far between. And yet, that is what these verses say.
As we look at Jesus ministry, we do see there were times when they were so busy they didn’t have time to eat. But it appeared to be the exception not the rule. They didn’t own horses and chariots to get them quickly from place to place. They walked. They rested. They went to eat with friends. Jesus even reminds us that our burden is to be easy, our yoke light.
So how do we apply these verses in a world that constantly demands more? I’m no expert – it’s probably why I have been thinking about them so constantly. But I do know I need to keep them central.
For me part of the answer is in recognizing that God knows what he desires from this organisation and is more than able to bring it to pass. I don’t need to make things happen for him. I need to get up each morning with the prayer that God would order my days and help me to know what to do and how to prioritise. As I end each day I need to hand back all the unfinished pieces to Him, remembering that God can, and many times has, resolved the problems of the day while I sleep. While He often uses me, He doesn’t need me. I’m merely a clay pot.
How about you, how do you apply these verses in your life?