Monday, September 21, 2009

Patience, Grasshopper

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4
The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4

OK, I sought the Kingdom of God first, now what? I’m still not a huge success – I’m ready for this to happen already!

Even a fool-proof formula for success needs time to work its “magic.” The time spent in earnest seeking God’s Kingdom daily, day after day, is a practical expression of a good character trait that is behind every true success story: diligence.

In our society which likes everything to be fast and disposable, diligence is underrated. You might think it’s non-existent, but the advances in medicine, science, technology, computers and more are evidence of diligence. I work with an organization that funds research on hearing and balance. Each year they give out 20 or more grants to scientists working on tiny little pieces of the huge puzzle “hearing and balance for everyone.” To the average person, some of these studies seem terribly insignificant. For instance, one that was funded this year seeks to quantify the mitochondrial DNA common deletion level and total deletion load in the cochlea of people with and without age-related hearing loss. (Yawn.) And this is just one of the many, many studies in progress right now that will someday complete the puzzle and yield a headline: Cure Found for Age-Related Hearing Loss! There are so many diligent researchers out there working on so many problems and we’ve seen so much measurable progress and so many remarkable breakthroughs that we now expect them and wonder why the heck more aren’t happening. Why isn’t there a cure for Alzhiemer’s yet? Can’t we get this Parkinson’s thing figured out before it’s too late for Michael J. Fox? What’s the hold up?

We want this same overnight success in our lives too, don’t we? I do, I’ll admit it. Daily I am dreaming up new ways in which I could be a huge success by this time tomorrow – a serendipitous meeting with just the right corporate buyer, one of Rachel Ray’s producers Stumble(s) Upon my Reba Ray page, an Oprah producer’s daughter receives On My Own Now for graduation. These are just the type of catalyst that make for big breaks. And yet, unless I have something for someone out there to discover, how could anything like that ever happen to me? Even Joe the Plumber had spent years building up a plumbing business before John McCain pulled his name out of obscurity. Think of any “overnight” success or fame and you will be able to trace it back to years – if not decades – of diligent preparation for that one moment that made the difference. Scientists, celebrities and Joe the Plumber make success look so easy, but diligence is their common denominator.

Instead of wallowing in despair about our future not getting here fast enough, we need to hunker down, put our noses to the grindstone and take care of the business, however small and tedious, that God has given us to do today. That might include cleaning toilets, washing dishes, writing a boring report, making someone else’s coffee or changing dirty diapers. If we do with diligence and a positive attitude, as unto the Lord, the task God has given us to do today, all these things will be added unto us in God’s perfect timing, which usually allots for sufficient development of our character so that when we do get “all these things,” we know how to put them to use for God’s glory and our good.

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