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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Just Do Something!

My blog-buddy, David, over at Contrarian Views put up a post called Fertiizer. His summary is this:

"If I want a healthier and greener lawn, I can pray for a greener lawn, or I can pray for a greener lawn and apply fertilizer and water to my lawn, or I can just apply fertilizer and water to my lawn. Two of my possible solutions work every time. Which of my solutions is not guaranteed to work?

His subject is aid to Africa, but one may read it and think that action is our default position, not prayer in lieu of action. I would hold that it is neither - it is "approved by prayer" action. Otherwise, you wait.

During a conversation with a friend, she pointed out to me something I heretofore thought silly - don't give your money to a cause if you haven't been "told" to. I thought the premise odd. After all, isn't giving my money to a known, good source a surefire "righteous" thing to do? She said no. I sat on the thought for a while.

At the time, I was headed to a transition from Army officer to assistant pastor...or so I thought. We at Team Hammer were sure of the church, neighborhood, and jobs I was going to do. We had bought the house, cementing that portion. Then, the job I thought I as sure to get fell through.

We had no back-up plan. We knew the church was what we were looking for and felt Holy-Spirit led to send our son to school there and talk to the pastor. The job that popped up was so unexpected, it had to be a "God thing". When it fell through, we weren't sure what to do.

We attempted to go to another church in the area, and the preaching was watered down - stereotypical large church (though many are not that way, many are). I knew I didn't want to try a different church every week, hoping to find one that both was serving the Lord and had a position open. My web-submitted resume to the association yielded nothing. However, my unemployment continued (um,not unemployment benefits, just being unemployed). What to do?

I thought I should obviously "Just Do Something". My family needed income, and God has provided employment opportunities everywhere. So I picked up some applications. I even filled some least partially. However, each time I was as certain as I have been in a long time that I was being pressed in a direction that I didn't already feel inclined to go. The direction?

"Do nothing."

Really, it was "wait", but it sure felt like "do nothing". So I stayed at home, parented, did yard work and home improvement, and watched the bank account dwindle. Mrs. Hammer and I decided that we were right about the church we had felt led to, and even though we weren't happy with their decision to not hire me: "You're the best in the world! How could they not hire you?!" - the ever objective Mrs. Hammer said. So, we went to another service, confirmed that they preached the Word, led people to Christ, emphasized missions and discipleship, and encouraged everyone to participate in a ministry. We filled out our guest form, and checked most of the boxes.

I went in to talk to one of the staff memebers who was the head of the discipleship and outreach areas about volunteer positions. After 90 minutes of discussing the needs of the church, my skill set, and my calling, I was offered the opportunity to apply for a paid position under him that was coming available. I wanted to, but we had some misgivings. We prayed about it over a weekend, and said OK. Three weeks later I was hired.

My two jobs combined will gross under $1500 a month. Our costs look to be over $2000 a month. Now we will walk by faith, truly. I doubt we would have been ready if our faith had grown while we waited, nor might we have received the blessing of the position and experiences we'l get through it.

The lesson is that "Just Do Something" that makes sense or seems like a solution is not always the way. I used to say, "In absence of further orders, attack!" I now say, "In absence of further orders...wait." It's a lot less inspiring, and requires faith. It's a faith that few have - and until recently, I didn't have it.

My friend was right. There are times when we do not fertilize and water, but indeed pray and wait. The one is walking by sight, the other by faith. However, the lawn does not demand spiritual guidance. Life does.


  • Hi Hammer,

    When we know the human solution, we need to use the human solution. If we need to start our cars, we don’t pray that our cars will start; we turn the key to start our cars. If the key doesn’t work, maybe a prayer is in order, but most of the time, we will have to put our car in the shop.

    If we don’t know the human solution, mucho prayer, and baby steps are in order. Doing something just to be doing something can sometimes help, but often times makes matters worse. My main point was that we already know what will work to decrease poverty in Africa and we also know what will not work to decrease poverty. Doing the wrong thing, or praying for the wrong thing, or praying instead of doing the right thing, is all foolish.

    You have acted wisely. I know it is hard to wait on the Lord. It seems like I am constantly waiting. But we as individuals and we as a society would have a lot less problems to solve it we consciously practiced waiting when there is no obvious human solution and we consciously practiced doing when there is a human solution.

    It’s good to see you back blogging and leaving challenging comments on other sites. : -)

    By Blogger David M. Smith, at 7/25/2005 11:47:00 AM  

  • This is a great post, Hammer. Think of my surprise to see a post on prayer from you that I agree with completely!

    When I was a kid I prayed for all sorts of things, like getting a teacher to forget to ask for homework I never did. But that is a very silly and childish form of prayer, even if it does seem to work from time to time. Prayer isn't about us telling God what to do, prayer is about God telling us what to do.

    (Of course, I no longer believe in a God that could even follow your orders in the first place, but I still believe in the second God, the one that gives us strength, courage and the wisdom to know right from wrong, though perhaps I should put the name in quotes, "God", just for journalistic integrity. I'm still working on that one, as you know.)

    My partial complaint is the assumption that "do nothing" should be the default action. Sometimes the default is a bit more complex than that; in fact, it usually is. In your case you didn't "do nothing" you kept looking for new opportunities, talking to first church, etc.

    By Blogger Mark, at 7/25/2005 03:55:00 PM  

  • Mark,

    Here, here! Mr. Hammer created his own "luck" on this one.

    By Blogger LiberPaul, at 7/28/2005 03:39:00 PM  

  • David,
    I didn't mean to be contradicting you - just adding to it. I happen to agree with your whole Fertilizer post, but just though that some additional info on life decisions was necessary.

    If I were to apply this to the Africa crisis, it would simply be that we are not to jump on whatever solution looks sexy at the time. Really, we all want to Just Do Something and give to whatever says it will fix it. The real answer is to pray about how we should help. We may get the answer tomorrow or in six months - but just giving to something (liek the misguided "One Campaign) for the sake of feeling like we did something is foolhardy and downright irresponsible.

    I can see how you got that, but I don't equate "pray and educte yourself" with "do nothing". Answers to prayer would be, almost by definition, Yes, No, or Wait. I put forth that it is far more often Wait than the other two.

    LP, Just to clarify, I really didn't look for other opportunities or ask at the first church. I joined the first church out of obedience, and talked to them about volunteer opportunities. I wasn't looking for a job there because I discovered that I didn't need a paid position for two more years.

    Good to 'see' you again, Mark, and great comment.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 8/01/2005 05:26:00 PM  

  • Hi Hammer,

    I didn’t read what you wrote as contradicting me. When I read it, it sounded a lot like something I would write. I like to take something someone else writes and look at the subject from a little different perspective. I think you did a good job writing this piece and I respect the way you have applied it to your life.

    By Blogger David M. Smith, at 8/02/2005 06:02:00 PM  

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