These days my life seems to be pretty full on. I am a husband and the father of 3 energetic boys aged six, four and one. Words cannot express how deeply I love my 3 children. Words also cannot express how draining it can be at times to be the parent of three kids this age. This is especially true on weeks like this one where everyone gets gastro. I am also the sole Pastor of a Baptist Church in Country NSW. I am absolutely certain that God has called me to be a Pastor. Being a Pastor is one of the most deeply rewarding things I can imagine doing with my life. It is also the single most challenging and demanding thing I have ever put my hand to.
When I find time to relax one of my favourite things to do is to spend some time reading. When it comes to fiction my favourite genre is fantasy, like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. A good fantasy novel provides an opportunity to suspend reality for a moment and take a mental escape to a different world. If I am reading non-fiction, the kind of books I most enjoy involve climbing Mount Everest, or some other kind of extreme adventure. When I think about it, these books are real life fantasy stories that provide the same kind of momentary mental escape.
The wisdom of proverbs provides a warning about fantasies.
Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. Proverbs 12:11
Reading a fantasy story as a short mental escape isn’t unhealthy. It’s important that we all learn how to stop and take a break. However, we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of spending our lives chasing fantasies. Life, especially as a follower of Jesus, can and should be exhilarating and spectacular. At the same time, it is often difficult, routine and ordinary. It is in the midst of the difficult, routine and ordinary that the temptation to chase fantasies can present itself. This temptation is more than the temptation to take a break and read a book. It is the temptation to run from our own lives to chase something more exciting and spectacular and perhaps easier. What this temptation actually looks like for each of us will be different. It is the greener grass, the get rich quick scheme, the shiny and spectacular programs, the temptation to constantly change careers, the bigger and better, the shortcut to success… a fantasy life.
Regardless of whether we have literal land to work or not, this proverb reminds us of an important truth. There will be many seasons when tending to the metaphorical patch of land that God has placed before us will seem far from exciting or spectacular. Most of the time it will be routine and ordinary. Often it will feel like hard and gritty work. The truth is that it is through embracing this very work, not running from it, that we find fruitfulness in life. If we are faithful to do the work set before us God will be faithful to provide the harvest.
God will certainly present us with new and exciting opportunities to pursue in life. His word encourages us that if we are faithful with the small things he has set before us he will set greater things before us. When we are evaluating a new opportunity the question we need to keep in mind is, “Is this a God given opportunity to embrace or a fantasy to steer clear of?”
To those who, like me, are sometimes worn down by the ordinary, the routine and the hard work of the life God has called you to, let me encourage you to keep at it. Don’t give up and spend your life chasing fantasies. Keep ploughing the soil, keep sowing the seed, keep watering the earth and above all else keep trusting that God will provide the harvest.
In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9