Earlier this year Jeff Bezos shared what some have called a brutal truth in his last letter to shareholders. According to Inc. Magazine, they are five short words that many never learn. The words? Create more than you consume.
Bezos goes on to say that our goal should be to create value for everyone we interact with, that value proposition we often hear about.
Thinking about the past year, I wondered if his comments had any application to our lives as people of faith. I wondered about lessons God has shared with us that He’d want us to carry forward as part of our walk with Him and His people. I wondered if there was a value proposition for us women of faith.
I thought back on my own year. I still remember the morning I fell apart learning that nail salons were closing, knowing my nails have not been without polish since 1973. Yep!
Then there was that panic buying moment that resulted in a case of industrial strength, commercial grade toilet paper that’s thinner than tissue paper with the consistency of waxed paper. Yep, consumption at its finest, thanks to Mr. Bezos and his fine team at Amazon.
As we lurched through pandemic protocols, I was not at my most creative. I was not focused on what I might give up, how I might give back, where I might give more. As life slowed, I became more and more focused on what I wanted when I wanted it. I wanted to consume. I wanted my nails done!
And then I started riding my bike and walking. Coming back from a week away, from a week of waaaayyyy too much fine dining, I woke up Monday morning and said, I’ve got to ride my bike. That day I decided I would get outside every day. Every day I rode my bike to the coffee shop and home again. When the weather started to turn and my bike added its own windchill factor, I continued to get outside, now walking. And in the quiet of a half hour walk, thirty short minutes, God turned my heart.
You’ll hear me talk about being a passionate advocate for words of loving kindness. Walk the WOLK, I like to say. Walk the words of loving kindness. That’s easy to do when the sun’s shining, not so easy in the middle of a torrential downpour, in the throes of our new normal.
In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he says we are His workmanship (God’s workmanship). Some translations of the Bible, use the word handiwork. “We are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As God’s people, we have been wired up to create. That’s part of what it means to be created in God’s image. Still, some of us may have moments of consumption that are not very attractive, a little self-centered, a little too inwardly focused, speaking from experience.
We will also have moments for wonderfully good works as part of God’s great creation, His creation in which we’re a part, His creation which is us. We are God’s value proposition.
Some Bible translations also read “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them.” That we should walk in them. My daily walks have become daily time with God. With my phone in my pocket on mute, away from computer notifications and reminders, I have time with God, not just to talk with Him, but also to listen.
When my boys were small, there were times I needed them to listen. That parenting thing, you know? I would tell them to turn down the TV, the game, the music, so they could hear me. God needs me to listen also, so I can know what he’s prepared in advance for me to do.
During this past year, how did God help you do good works? What plans did God have for you, plans you may not have been aware of at the time, but looking back you go, “Ah, yes, that was God.”
I don’t want to belittle the challenges of these past many months. The brokenness of our world has been shocking, the din about us has been harsh, the challenges seemingly insurmountable some days. My own self-centeredness has been difficult to fathom at times. And then God gives us a gentle nudge, a moment of quiet, an unexpected opportunity in which we can step in with His love and His light. It might be the PPP loan that kept people working, that supported local businesses. It might be a moment in which to share a sincere thanks with a nail tech, a stylist, a therapist, those people in our life who support us in so many ways. It might be the extra time and money we were able to share with our community, our church, our family, another family dealing with especially hard times.
You are God’s beautiful creation, created to create. And He has big plans for you, for all of us, plans designed just for you, plans designed just for me. We create, not because we’re part of some grand mathematical equation, but because we’re God’s people created to do His good work.
In their “Defined” bible study, Stephen and Alex Kendrick talk about God’s workmanship. They said the Greek word is poiema, similar to our English word poem. They ask us to imagine being a God’s poem, His beautiful and thoughtful self-expression, His masterpiece, made from an overflow of His creative joy as His workmanship. That’s waaaayyy more than some mathematical equation!
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Speaker | Writer | Author
Before my father died, he reminded me that Mom had asked me to write a book. At the time the boys were in college, and the notion of writing was unfathomable. Writers write books. By the time my boys were adults, I’d run out of excuses. I was also at that age when I could pause and reflect.
Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace was my first publishing endeavor. My second was Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Both are collections of stories that tell of God’s love and faithfulness. Both tell of His remarkable grace and mercy.
When not writing, I serve as the Client Service Coordinator for The Planner’s Edge, an investment advisory firm in Washington state. I’m active in my church, serving on the Leadership Team and gathering with a wonderful group of ladies to study and giggle over lattes and chocolate. On my desk is a rock with the words “Choose Joy!” etched in it. It’s my inspiration for each day. As an author, it is my hope that my own words might share that joy we find together as children of God.
With Him, it can be so.
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