Tommy Baker was a workaholic. There was rarely a time that he was not, in some way, involved in work. He was always the first person in the company to arrive each morning and frequently one of the last to leave. His laptop computer was a constant companion and was rarely turned off, even during the few hours spent at home with his wife and family. If he wasn't actually performing some kind of work function, he was at least thinking about it. He worked hard and long. He was the perfect employee, willing to do whatever it took to insure the success of the company.
There was one slight problem, however, that had begun to creep into Tommy's consciousness: His efforts were not reaping rewards. It seemed as though the harder he worked the bleaker his financial picture had become. He could not tell if he were making ground on his dreams and aspirations because he didn't have time in his schedule to plan for his own future. He had no idea what he would do when retirement finally arrived. He was certain that he would not have any money to speak of and the thought of just sitting around, relaxing, did not seem that pleasant of an idea.
As these things go, Tommy's wife was becoming concerned and worried about their future. They had always managed to make ends meet and were not in want of anything, but she had begun to ask, "Is making ends meet all there is to life?" Tommy did not have an answer. He had always felt that if he worked hard enough, good things would come. He was beginning to see an element of fallacy to this philosophy. Working hard was an admirable quality but it did not necessarily insure a life filled with rewards, security, or even happiness. Instead of looking forward to the glorious golden years, Tommy was filled with fear, worry, and anxiety.
So what could he do? What changes could he bring about in his life that would lead to a sense of success and give him the ability to enjoy the rewards of life that so many others were seemingly experiencing? Should he work even harder or should he simply give up and accept that the joys of life will always remain outside his reach?
Being a Godly man, having attended church regularly for most of his life, he decided to pray.
"Dear God. I know that I haven't spent much time praying to you over the years. It just didn't seem to make much sense. I was busy and you must have been busy with all the world's issues to deal with, so it was just easier to not bother you with my minor problems. I figured we eventually get around to talking when we both had more time. So I guess it's about time to talk.
You see, I am worried about my future. I just don't see how I will be able to afford retirement. On top of that, my wife thinks we should buy a new home - you know - find a place, a dream place, to spend the rest of our years together in peace and happiness. There is no way I can afford to do this. I've worked hard but the money for this kind of dream is just not there. What I don't understand is why.
The preacher at church says that in our faith in you, we will be blessed. In his sermon just today he talked about the rewards of living a righteous life. He said we should develop the faith of Abraham where he trusted that you would provide for his needs. I guess I have always felt you would provide for my needs. It seemed that if I did my job and worked hard, you would do your job and provide. I guess it doesn't work that way. I feel like David when he prayed: "How much longer, LORD, will you forget about me? Will it be forever? How long will you hide? 2How long must I be confused and miserable all day? How long will my enemies keep beating me down?" (Psalm 13:1-2, CEV)
Okay, I admit it. I haven't studied the Bible, or volunteered at church, or tithed. There just has never been enough time or money. I also admit that I haven't put you into the center of my life like the preacher always says I should do. I guess I'd have to say that the only reason I attended church at all was because my wife wanted me there. At least that is something to my credit. I did attend church at least once a month, except during the football season. I mean, shouldn't I have a little pleasure in life? And there is also tax season when there is just too much work to do.
So now I realize that, perhaps, there is more to life than work. Is it too late? If I start working harder for you will I still be able to reap some of the benefits and rewards you have available?"
As soon as Tommy said those words he recognized their fallacy. There was no way to earn God's love. He at least knew that much from the little time he had spent in church. Despondency began to darken his heart. There was no hope. As he closed his eyes he called out "Please, Lord. Help me."
Suddenly and without explanation, his hopelessness was replaced with a sense of peace. He felt an overwhelming sense of love warm his heart. He sensed a presence that he had never felt before. He took a deep breath as the realization and memories of a blessed life came flooding into his mind. He was reminded of the joy of marriage, the happiness of parenthood, the comfort of home, and the well-being of good health. He recognized that his life had been filled with blessings upon blessings. He realized that there was more he could do, especially in setting priorities in his life. He also became intimately aware that God would provide and his worries could be set aside.
"Thank you, God," he whispered. "I love you too."
Inspired by Psalm 13 and Genesis 22:1-14
Read more articles by Gary Sims or search for articles on the same topic or others.