By Jason Carr
My sister is an anesthesiologist. She is the physician that puts you to sleep before surgery, makes sure you stay alive, and helps you to wake up. I’ve heard her say before that her job is 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. The simple reason for this is that nothing usually goes wrong, but when it does it demands all of her focus and attention. Decisions must be made quickly and the margin for error is extremely small.
As I was running through downtown Macon a few days ago, I was thinking about this scenario and how closely it reflects most of our lives. Most days aren’t filled with excitement, intrigue, or tragedy. Most days are…well, meh. They’re filled with bills, laundry, poopy diapers, deadlines, and the like. Exhaustion sets in early in the week and it’s not because we are climbing mountains and fighting great battles, it’s because we are purposeless. We are stuck in the 90% doldrums longing for our next moment of exhilaration. The reality is, that while we wait for the blanket of boredom to lift, life is passing us by!
This problem is not new, it’s precisely what David faced as a king. A bored king wandering around on the roof got himself into some major trouble. He was supposed to be with his army, but he wasn’t. Contrast this with his time as a lowly shepherd boy. This unassuming boy who watched the sheep every day found himself standing before a gigantic, blasphemous Philistine who dared him to fight. David was ready for the fight and he lept into action landing a decisive blow on the forehead of Goliath.
What was it that prepared David for the fight? It wasn’t just that he was a shepherd, it was how he spent his time as a shepherd. Shepherding has historically been considered one of the worst jobs on the planet, both in pay and in the duties required. Most of the time, nothing is happening, but when something comes up, the shepherd, in this case David, is up. When the lion and the bear came to steal a sheep, David was vigilant. He displayed vigilance even though it’s likely that he spent months, maybe even years, between the bear and lion attacks. It was David’s vigilance and faithfulness in moments of mundaneness that prepared him to take down giants. It’s not hard to imagine David practicing his sling shot skills on the rocks and fence posts, perhaps having no idea that he would ever amount to anything, but knowing that a good shepherd defends the defenseless. Even as he practiced his lethal skills in the day, he sang his songs before God in the night. David was preparing for the 10%; David was preparing for Goliath.
Recall that description of my sister’s job: 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. Though a large part of her job may seem boring, the truth is she is engaged in the task at hand and when sheer terror comes, she’s ready. In other words, faithfulness in the mundane times actually accomplishes something and prepares us. These aren’t times to be wasted or filled with mindless activity.
In our spiritual lives. faithfulness to our duties is critical, but not enough. The Davidic call is a call to be occupied with the task as we are preoccupied with God. Faithfulness shows us as a worker approved and it prepares us for the seasons of promotion, yet it’s intimacy and connection to God that reminds us what this whole thing is really about. Don’t dread the 90%, embrace the doldrums and buy into God’s vision for your life. If we do not prepare in these times, we will not defeat our giants.