Last week, I spent an hour and 22 minutes on the phone trying to sort out a large medical bill only to learn that there was no way we could lower it any further. I often encounter situations like this; when you have several chronically-ill family members, there’s simply no avoiding days that are spent on the phone, usually on hold.
Although I try to put my phone on speaker and fold some laundry while I wait, there simply aren’t that many things that I can do while passing the time. Vacuuming is too loud – I can’t hear the phone to know when someone on the other end picks up. The same thing is true of washing dishes. I can’t even read to the spark plugs over the static-y din of the obnoxious hold music. (Props to GoDaddy for now offering the option to wait in silence.) Folding laundry and cleaning out my purse are the only two chores I’ve been able to accomplish well while on the phone.
When all is said and done, on these days that are spent waiting for someone to answer on the other end, I feel as though my precious hours have been wasted. Even though these phone calls must be dealt with just as much as cleaning and teaching, there is no tangible evidence that I’ve accomplished anything at all. Little minds have not grown wiser; the house has not become cleaner; and I often don’t even come away with a reduced bill to show for my efforts.
I’m tempted to wonder why I even bother at all.
There are definite reasons that I persist at the awful telephone game. First of all, some calls are absolute requirements, like scheduling appointments and ordering medical supplies. Secondly, I do get bills reduced often enough that it warrants the time spent to try.
It’s in those rare bill-slashing moments that I realize that the effort has been worth it after all. The waiting isn’t fun; the time spent is agonizing; but the reduced payments are a huge blessing.
Last week, I suddenly saw yet another parallel between my physical and spiritual life.
Sometimes the Lord asks us to do hard things, things that seem – on the surface – to eat up all of our precious minutes without showing much of a return in the end. Perhaps you’ve spent years praying for an unsaved spouse or child. Maybe you’ve had to walk a completely different road than you thought you’d wanted in life. Or possibly the Lord has called you to do something day in and day out that doesn’t appear to be bearing any fruit.
The thing is, we never know when that hoped-for result will come. We may not even see the result of our efforts in our lifetime. But if we’re consistent in doing what He’s called us to do, it doesn’t matter. We are called to be faithful, not to achieve results. Sometimes, He may see fit to let us see a tangible difference from our efforts, like when an insurance agency agrees to cover more of the total cost or when a hospital agrees to charge us less. Other times, He might let another build on the foundation we’ve laid, like with someone to whom we’ve been witnessing for years doesn’t come to Christ until another person presents the Gospel to him again.
My point is this: nothing we do for the sake of the Gospel is in vain. We won’t know until Heaven just how much of an impact we will have had on the world, and that’s perfectly okay. We simply need to keep on making those spiritual “phone calls,” even the ones that disrupt our day and offer no physical evidence of accomplishment. It is up to the Lord to bring about the fruit in His perfect timing.
Your turn: Are you faithfully doing the tasks that the Lord has given you, especially the ones that aren’t yet bearing fruit? How do you keep going even when it appears that it’s all for naught?