If A Tree Falls

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God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10 

Insight

I'm not a morning person...at all. Being an "adult," I've learned to adjust out of necessity to kids waking me up from my hibernation or having an early morning work meeting, getting up to exercise, well, not so much. My tendency to hit the snooze button got me in trouble during my college years, especially the semester when I had an 8 am Modern Philosophy class.

More often than I care to admit, I would prop my head against my bookbag and doze off. One such time, I felt a tap on my shoulder and had my professor standing over me. "Excuse me, Mr. Ripa...sorry to wake you from your nap, but the class would love to know if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Huh? What kind of question is that? Of course, it does. He chuckled, shook his head, and then proceed to lecture for the next hour on this philosophical thought experiment regarding the concepts of observation and perception. 

As Christians, I think we ask ourselves similar questions concerning our work, service, and sacrifice. If we give of ourselves, and no one notices, acknowledges it, or expresses their gratitude, does our work count? If what we do doesn't make a significant impact, does it matter? And, if things don't turn out as we hope, does it mean what we gave was all for nothing? 

Even though the author penned the book of Hebrews thousands of years ago, it's as if he's speaking directly to us. The same tension exists today that crept up and spread amongst the body of believers back then. People had lost heart. They began to wonder if the God they served had forgotten them. All their hard work appeared for naught. 

It was easy for them, and us as well, to lose heart during points along the journey. We can feel overlooked while being overwhelmed. Our efforts might appear futile — the circumstances we've invested so much time, energy, and focus toward hasn't changed. The unseen things we do fall on deaf ears and get ignored by blind eyes. No one seems grateful for our actions. And we begin to wonder if our part matters at all. 

And here's what the author urges us to do, or in this case, don't do when we find ourselves in this situation: Don't lose heart. Don't give in. Don't give up. Even though it might feel that our hard work isn't accounted for, we can trust that what we do counts in God's eyes. Not only does He see it, but He'll reward us for our effort either in this life, or the next.  

Reframing our perspective and remembering our audience helps provide us the strength to keep working in the in-between. We continue to show up and serve an audience of ONE. We love others because God first loved us. Lady Gaga might "live for the applause," but we shouldn't. Today, don't sleep on the fact that God notices you and your contribution. 

Reflection

  • Are there places where you've lost heart in the work and service you are doing? 

  • Where do you need to be reminded that God sees and cares about your contribution?

Prayer

God, in those moments where disillusionment and discouragement attempt to set in, I will fight it with the truth that You know and see my heart. You care deeply about me and my work. Let my words and actions, and everything I do, focus on pointing people to You regardless of the response. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.


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