Posts Tagged ‘outcomes

16
Nov
20

Longing for Results

Folks, I am so tickled with myself I can hardly stand it!

This past weekend I decided to take on a daunting auto maintenance task… and I DID IT! With all fingers and toes still accounted for, no less!

Actually, “daunting” might be a teeny bit of an overstatement. However, it is not an overstatement to say that I performed an auto maintenance task that was necessary and long overdue and that made a HUGEdifference. 

You see, Joan and I drive cars that are nine and 11 years old, respectively. Despite their advanced age, our cars are both reliable, paid for, and smooth running. But we have found that, over time, the headlights on each car were starting to look a little “frosted” and dull. Recently, while driving at night, we saw that they don’t light up the road as well as they once did.

And so … TA DAH! Enter the magical 3M Headlight Restoration Kit and Master Mechanic RUSSELL! [No… today’s blog post is not sponsored or paid for by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company… Even though it really should be!]

After spending about 40 minutes on each car, working with my drill/power sander and the KIT, Joan and I are each now the proud owners of cars with clean, crystal clear headlights… just like the day they rolled out the factory door.

Ah! RESULTS

“Big deal,” I hear you saying, somewhat dismissively. “You cleaned up your car’s headlights! What will you do for an encore… vacuum the living room?”

In the first place, buster, it IS a big deal.

But besides the finished product itself, the thing that really caught me by surprise was how deeply SATISFYING it was to see a tangible OUTCOME from my efforts. All of which made me realize just how rarethat experience was for me. 

You see, my work – prior to my retirement last year – was in professional, ordained ministry. I found the work to be challenging, rewarding, frustrating, satisfying, uplifting, and soul-crushing… sometimes all in the same week. No two days were ever the same and The Unexpected was a regular visitor to my office door.

But as much as I felt a fit, a divine calling, and deep GRATITUDE for the work of ministry, I can’t really say I ever saw much in the way of tangible RESULTS from my work. 

I mean, sure, there were plenty of those “thin places” that Marcus Borg talks about… the times when you suddenly see that there is very little standing between you and God’s overwhelming glory and grace… the times that drive you to your knees in praise and awe. 

I experienced many, many “holy moments” with families at the bedside of a loved one, or in fervent prayer during a crisis, or while exploring the scriptures in a small group. I witnessed an abundance of transcendent moments of praise and worship that took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. 

Nevertheless, it was a rare moment indeed to see a person in whom I could see the same kind of dramatic “before” and “after” profile I saw in my Altima’s headlight lenses. There were times in my work when – I will confess – I looked up from my relentless buffing and polishing and shining and said, “God… is my work EVERgoing to make a difference here?”

And inevitably God looked down with that gentle forbearance God is so famous for, smiled, and said, “Oh, Russell, my poor, misguided servant. How is it that you so consistently miss the point of the work I have called you to? How many times do I have to remind you that, 1.) results are in MY hands, not YOURS, and 2.) as a flawed, finite human being, you are not even equipped to see the eternal impact you might be making here?”

God then continued in that same gentle voice and said, “I guess this is the time when I need to remind you – YET AGAIN – that you were called to faithfulness, not to attaining any sort of earthly measures of success.”  

And then, as if to drive the point home, God gave one of those cosmic chuckles and said, “If you really want to see some results your work, may I suggest planting a garden? Or better yet, working on your CAR?”

All I could say in response was, “Touché, God. I’ll go get the ‘3M Headlight restoration kit’ right now.”

Abundant blessings;




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