I am a doer. I love lists. Each time I cross something off, I feel a surge of accomplishment.
Last September a friend and mentor challenged me to stop doing and start being. Those were strange words for a type A personality to hear. Just be? What’s the point? What does that even mean?
In January both my parents were diagnosed with cancer. Their prognoses look good, but through this season, God has shown me what it means to just be.
It means waiting in a lounge for a parent to get out of surgery. It means watching whatever we can find on the hospital TV or taking a walk and stopping to look out the windows. It means being too tired to think but too wound up to sleep, too emotional to make a decision but competent enough to know it has to be made; it means leaning on a foundation of faith but not having the words to pray.
And it is here, in the absence of any sort of accomplishment, at the end of myself, that I am grateful that I don’t have to do anything.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. . . . For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:4,5,8,9).
Dead is decisively not active, not participating, not accomplishing. We were dead to God and dead in our sins when God reached down and made us alive in Christ. And as if the apostle Paul feared we may try to take a little credit, he added, “this not from yourselves . . . not by works, so that no one can boast.”
It’s easy to boast in accomplishments. It’s harder to boast when we are powerless.
It is also here, in the absence of productive work, that I can be an encourager, supporter, another set of eyes and ears. I can be the communicator and the coffee, water, or pillow retriever.
This is what my friend was encouraging me to grasp. I don’t have to strive so much or work so hard. Grace is amazing because when we couldn’t, Jesus did. Even now, when we can’t, he can. Being is resting in what Jesus has done and continues to do. And that is a very comforting place to be, even and especially for a doer.
Amber Albee Swenson is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Her husband and four children keep life exciting and give her lots to write and pray about. Mother, wife, and author are treasured positions, but child of God is her identity.
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