Journey with me back to your 9th grade English class. We are studying grammar – admittedly a bore, or worse, for many. But a necessity in some instances if we hope to understand a writer’s meaning.
Consider the word “and.” Sometimes it’s interchangeable with a comma as in: “I’m shopping for carrots, (and) pears, (and) asparagus.
There’s an important “and” in Galatians 6:4. The Message reads:
“Make a careful exploration of who you are AND the work that you’ve been given,
and then sink yourself into that.”
But the meaning changes if you substitute a comma. What if the verse read instead:
Make a careful exploration of who you are, the work that you’ve been given,
and sink yourself into that.
Do you see the difference? Suddenly “who you are” IS “the work you’ve been given…” And with that one simple comma, YOU got swallowed up in what you DO. Not an uncommon occurrence in our busy lives.
I’m coming to see how important we are to each other when it comes to keeping the two separate: who we are and the work we’ve been given to do.
Mark Batterson says in his book, Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God:
“Nothing has the potential to change your life like the whisper of God.
Nothing will determine your destiny more than your ability to hear His still small voice.”
I stopped after reading those words and asked myself: “Who is asking me if I am pausing long enough to listen for that Holy Whisper that determines my destiny and affirms my humanity?” And “who am I encouraging to pause for that same Whisper?”
I gently ask you these questions also. Scary because it may bring tears. You may have a husband, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a teacher or others with whom you can share your heart… or you may be sitting in a lonely place right now... not a kindred spirit in sight. I’ve been in both places.
If you desire that kind of encouragement to explore you AND your work, I urge you to pray and keep your eyes open for a patient, listening, brave encourager who has time for you.
Or perhaps you can be that person for someone else – someone who has lost sight of who they are in the midst of doing the work God has called them to do. Or just the opposite: they have become absorbed in WHO they are and have forgotten God has designed a good work for them to sink into.
And maybe, just maybe, this is the season in your life to invite Jesus to become your kindred spirit. Perhaps this is the time to build your friendship with Him, to pour your heart out to Him and to listen to His love and dream for you.
Maybe it will be while sitting quietly at His feet that you receive clarity and affirmation about both: who you are AND the work you’ve been given.
God concludes the instruction with this:
“Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
I believe God’s plan includes both you AND the work you’ve been given. No commas.
TO CONSIDER: Ask God for a person who will encourage you to discover both yourself and your work – and a person you can walk beside to do both. Meanwhile, consider spending time alone with the Lord seeking His perspective about you.