“Plan Hard, Work Harder, and Rest Easy”
I don’t know where I picked this up from but it resides on a list I call “Personal Axioms and Plum Lines”. The idea is to plan your work, work the plan, and then rest in the providence of God.
Perhaps the more “theologically astute” of my readers might have heard another, similar expression: “Work like an Armenian; sleep like a Calvinist”. Granted, that expression is equally offensive to both Armenians and Calvinists alike (sorry!), but the idea works.
As Christians, we know we have an obligation to use the gray matter between our ears and the bodies we’ve been given and not resign ourselves to fatalism.
But is it possible we can take on a concept of “functional atheism”? In other words, we profess God but write off things to “chance”, “timing”, and “circumstances” instead of providence. Is it possible we as Christians could act like God isn’t there?
We find in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 some Biblical ruminating on this very idea.
11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Here’s another classic example of the thrust of Ecclesiastes: to deconstruct all the ways we try to find meaning apart from God. At these verses, King Solomon notices “time and chance” affect the outcomes of life as much as—if not more than!—ability.
How many times have we witnessed someone with all the ability in the world fail not because of a lack of desire or talent, but wrong “timing”?
Think about the musicians that are your favorites. How many other people, perhaps more talented, never get their big break? Even watching (or catching the YouTube performances of) the singing competitions of (the late) American Idol, X-Factor, and The Voice quickly demonstrates there are some amazingly talented people out there.
But if they’re not in the right time at the right place…no break. No dream fulfilled.
This is what the Great Teacher of Israel is noticing, too.
It’s not always the fastest runner winning the race. It’s not always the best leader becoming CEO. It’s not always the strongest soldier winning battles. It’s not always the highest skilled worker getting the promotion.
It just doesn’t always work out that way.
Apart from God, we have no answer to the talent and timing issue. Certainly, the Lord has put certain systems in place governing the universe. Certainly, the Lord has also put people in the positions they are in.
But at the end of the day, who’s really in control? The Lord.
So, my friends, plan hard, work harder. Do your part! And then rest easy. He is in control of both our talent and our time.