Let's Make an Effort

By Amy Sparkman

Making a difference in the world starts with making an effort!

How easy it is, especially during summer vacation, to think that we should be able to sit down, lean back, and take it easy. We worked hard during the school year, and now we deserve a break, right?

So we might sleep a lot, read a lot, shop a lot, eat a lot, or just hang out a lot. Time drifts by. Life drifts by. One lazy day blends effortlessly into the next. Slowly but surely, life becomes centered on "whatever's good for me."

For a while, this focus on self-satisfaction may seem to be, well, self-satisfying. The irony is that the longer we live this way, the more sluggish we feel, the less rested, the more snippy, the less patient, the more bored, and -- surprise, surprise -- the less content with ourselves and our lives.

Ultimately, we feel dissatisfied and grumpy. Why? Because there was/is no focus, no purpose, and no effort in the direction of fulfilling that focus and purpose. Self-centeredness cajoles us into denying God as the source of our being, our character, our identity, and our purpose.

Doing "whatever's good for me" defies God's unfolding plan for us. The longer we persist in this direction, the more enervated we feel -- drained of energy, motivation, and focus. At this point, we're useless -- both to ourselves and to others. We've become a "sluggard in the race."

For starters, we can learn from some of these wise sayings:

  • "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?" (Prov. 6:9).
  • "Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper" (Prov 13:4 NLT).

Then, we can consider these situations and imagine the outcomes:

  • What if Noah hadn't built the Ark?
  • What if Moses hadn't led his people out of Egypt or shared the Ten Commandments?
  • What if Ruth had decided to go home instead of staying with Naomi?
  • What if Nehemiah hadn't acted to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem?
  • What if David hadn't stepped up to face Goliath?
  • What if Jesus had said, "No thank you, God. Count me out. I don't want to play."

One other story deserves our consideration -- the story of Jonah, who valiantly tries to ignore God's command and ends up in a whale's belly where he's so alone and disconnected that he must think deeply and reconsider his behavior. When he's finally belched out of the whale's mouth, he is a changed man and is willing and obedient to follow God's directions.

So, if we want to make a difference in our world (and we do!), let's ask ourselves:

  • In what ways can I change my view, enthusiasm, energy, effort?
  • What is God telling me to do today, right now?
  • What more am I capable of doing?
  • How can I listen more carefully to God and hear more clearly what I can do?

Making an effort doesn't require having a harried schedule of volunteer work full of do-goodism. It means living a God-centered life rather than a self-centered one. It means striving to fulfill the great commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Luke 10:27 KJV). And it means earning the promise: "This do and thou shalt live" (Luke 10:28).

These are strong words for a satisfying end. In fact, they result in the only truly satisfying end. A God-centered life might begin with small steps, but it inevitably grows into a life purpose. And that makes quite a difference.