I was reading from John 4 yesterday morning. It’s a story I’ve read often and written about, a story about a Samaritan woman that Jesus talked with. They talk, he reveals more knowledge about her than anyone but a prophet should have. She runs to invite the people from her community to see Jesus.

While he’s waiting, the disciples ask him if he wants some of the food they brought from the town the woman was running toward. He says he’s already got food. They don’t understand.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

After I read that in the morning, I walked through a hectic day. At the end, I looked back to see what made it so hectic. I realized that I had introduced expectations that made conversations with important people feel like interruptions. I started a project which wasn’t nearly as important as a couple of emails would have been, and which created frustration that will linger for a couple more days while I try to solve a problem.

Jesus took sustenance from listening to God’s directions and accomplishing God’s work. Not committing to things that merely seemed good, not filling time for the sake of having it filled. Hearing the will, carrying out the work.

Jesus is alone in this focusing. Nehemiah stuck with his “great work“. Paul focused and refocused on his “one thing“. For each it was a process. It took discernment. But weighing our actions and thoughts and priorities against a standard of “God’s work” matters. I’m not talking about “church work”. This isn’t about ministry programs. But accomplishing God’s work be about people and obedience and compassion and focus and self-sacrifice. And listening before deciding what God wants.

10 thoughts on “Accomplishment

  1. Jill

    “And listening before deciding what God wants”… Matt and I were just discussing this but it sounded more like “I’m going to step back from jumping on all the things that sound good because those things seem to be the wrong things and just listen for awhile.” Hmmmm… And then of course, because it is our nature, we forget about listening and start plowing ahead, as a force of habit…and we are even more unsettled…but thankfully, we don’t have to go all the way back to square one. I suppose that means that there is progress being made, even if its not the kind of progress we THINK we want.


    1. Jon Swanson

      one of the conversations yesterday was with a friend who stated a need (a small whiteboard), and then talked herself out of all the solutions. I said, “stick with stating the need” and found what she needed in a way she hadn’t even thought of and didn’t know about.

      I think I often am in need and then tell God what the solution will be. I’m sometimes right, but not often.

      And yes, there is progress being made.


  2. Frank Reed

    I had an interesting experience that showed me just how simple this all is if I would simply stay focused on the cross. Bear with me as I roll this out.

    I just bought a new smartphone and a fancy case. The case is one of those that are designed for people who drop phones to drop them and hopefully minimize the damage. It it so protective it has an inner hard case and an outer ‘gel’ case.

    Well I put it all together and was using the phone when I noticed some dust / debris under the screen cover (which is also incorporated in this silly case). I peeled off the gel case easily but suddenly realized that in order to the speck in my phones eye (like that one?) I had to take the inner hard case off.

    Let’s just say that when it clicks shut, it clicks shut. The direction say to use a coin to get it open. Tried it and nothing. I then tried a key and nothing. By now I am getting concerned that I invested in something that was not practical. When I got to my desk how I noticed a small, cheaply made, aluminum cross that I keep right near my computer monitor. I figured “Why not?”.

    Long story short the case opened right away and immediately my mind went through the process I tried to solve this dilemma, which was using my own ‘smarts’ and the directions of the world. Those ended in frustration. As soon as I ‘used’ the cross the problem was solved and I couldn’t help but draw the dotted line to everything else in life and the metaphor for life that this little incident had been.

    Sorry for the long winded comment but this really struck me as meaningful and it has helped me see that my only true answers lie in the work of the cross. Anything else is fool’s gold that leads to no result.

    Phew. Thanks for listening.


  3. Joseph Ruiz (@SMSJOE)

    This morning i was reading Jesus Calling – the message was Problem-solving is our default and it can be a barrier to a closer walk with Jesus. You folks have expanded on that notion well. It’s back to that focus thing, then of course listening and trust. Thanks to each of you. Great illustration Frank.


  4. Rich Dixon

    Can I add one more thought? Yes…listen, discern, but at some point–decide! Not-deciding is a choice to either sit in anxious indecision or to run in a thousand different directions for fear of making the wrong choice. Nehemiah prayed four months, but once he was convinced of the right path he moved resolutely in that single direction. I suspect God will value and bless our choice if it’s done with right motives and pure heart.


    1. Jon Swanson

      exactly. For Nehemiah is was clearly both/and.

      And I have a story about that idea of listening and acting that I need to tell some day. The short version: I said “God, this is what I hear. So if you don’t want me to do that, stop me.” He did, in that situation, but I’m doing those things now in a different setting. I was hearing right. I did need to move.

      It’s James 1. If you lack wisdom, ask. When you get it, don’t second guess.


  5. cd40

    I’m training some lay caregivers now, and this relates so much to our conversation regarding servanthood vs. servitude. When we live into what God has placed uniquely in us to do and let the other expectations fall away, we can truly serve with joy. But how difficult it is to let go of all the expectations!


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