You can work with mud, but the completion of the job depends on circumstances beyond your control, i.e. you can’t finish the job until the ground dries.
James 5:7-8 (NIV)
7Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Rough roads made smooth. . .
In the excavating business, when you know how to work with mud, then you really know what you are doing. I thought of this the other day after our graders worked on our muddy, sloppy roads.
The first guy. . .
The first operator started on the roads while water stood in potholes and mud oozed everywhere. But he patiently worked the grader back and forth over the roads. When he was finished, it still looked a mess, but not to me. I knew he had prepared the roads for the next stage in the process. The roads were better – progress – but the work was not nearly complete.
The second guy. . .
A few days later as things had dried more, our second guy successfully graded the roads. Because of what the first operator accomplished our second guy was able to expertly fill and cut, smoothing our roads and preparing them to drain properly for our next bout with rain.
Very important note. . .
If the first operator had tried to complete the job, the roads would have been worse than when he began, AND he would not have left them in the condition necessary for the success of the next person.
The key. . .
The key to working with mud is patience. You cannot expect to fix your problem immediately. Sometimes your project will take days, sometimes weeks, because you can only do what the mud allows.
You shape, form, mix and actually sculpt the ground. You mostly do the same things that you would with dry material, but you have to expect that some things will come undone almost as soon as you do them.
Progress not completion. . .
Working with mud you are not as much looking for completion as progress. You are preparing for the next stage in the process, and then you hope things dry out and you wait.
I remember a job I had when I was maybe twenty-four years old on a bulldozer on a ditch job. I should have realized something wasn’t right when the guy who had been doing the job looked so very happy when I came to replace him, replacing him as in he was moving to a different job pulling a fuel sled with a smaller dozer.
I didn’t know what to do. I moved the dry material as instructed by the supervisor, but I didn’t know what to do with the mud. I had neither the confidence nor the patience for the process.
Punchline. . .
Maybe here is my punchline. Working with people is often more like working with mud than with nice dry ground. Things fall apart as soon as we do them.
I have to trust God, have faith in his sovereignty and purpose.
Easier to sing about. . .
And very honestly, faith and trust are easier to sing about than to do in the middle of my day.
But there is more. . .
Working with mud means believing in God together, being patient with each other, but not forgetting a diligence to work the ground and do what we can do.
It may rain more or the sun may come out. God chooses.
Moses was a mud man. . .
Moses worked with mud and it drove him crazy. All the complaining and grumbling, the short-sightedness. The people of Israel couldn’t accept God’s process, his plan as directed through Moses. They wanted to be free from slavery but the first generation of the miraculous exodus died in the wilderness because they never accepted the journey. They never trusted God in the process. They didn’t realize the promise of God was just as real when they were hungry and thirsty as it was when they marched through the Red Sea on dry land.
The bad news. . .
Things often don’t work out as we plan or envision them.
The good news. . .
The really, really good news is that things work out exactly as God plans.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.