Friday, June 09, 2006

Who actually does it?

"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" - Psalm 127.1

Now there's an interesting concept! If I build something, who is it that actually builds it? Is it the Lord? Or is it me? If I write a computer program or a paper, coordinate activities between groups, diagnose some problem, who actually does it -- is it me, or is it the Lord?

This passage suggests that the answer is, well, both:
But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.
2 Samuel 23.12
So that's all very interesting (or not), but what does that mean in the life of a 21st century A.D. software guy? Take a look at the next verse:
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Psalm 127.2
Another translation says he gives to those he loves even when they sleep -- like when Adam took a nap, and then God brought Eve to him. So, being practical. What comes to mind is the story of two men, which I think I read in The Man in the Mirror. One was an insurance guy, who decided at some point to be satisfied with whatever he could earn within some limit -- some number of hours per week or day, and to trust God that this would be enough. The rest of his time went to being a husband and father and church member and citizen. Because he determined to be content with what he had, he was, well, content with what he had.

Another fellow operated a shop. He tended to be "hungry" and insecure about the future. Never sure there would be enough, he didn't hire enough help and worked too long himself. Unfortunately for him, his attitude was obvious to his customers, few of whom returned.

I'm not saying that slacking off is the way to contentment, but I think the psalmist is telling us that pursuing wealth doesn't always work in the way we might like. I'm also not saying that every single week, a Silicon Valley engineer or manager can just punch out after exactly 40 or 50 hours (or whatever his/her limit is). But I think the psalmist is telling us this:

Whatever "
rise early and stay up late, toiling" means to you or me, it might not be the right thing for us or for our families. And if I'm anxious and not trusting the Lord to provide, then I probably need to straighten that out first.

(started to write this yesterday, posted today)

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