“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved” (Psalm 127:1-2 NRSV)
Working. Eating. Sleeping. Raising children. Building our houses. These are the common threads in the fabric of our lives. But what of these “every-day” activities? The psalmist calls our attention to one simple fact: all of these activities are “in vain” if God is not involved. Unless our working, eating, sleeping, child-raising, house-building, or “whatever-ing” is oriented towards God, it will essentially “come to nothing” in the end. Unless we bring God into our activities of living, we will wind up anxious, sleep-less, and batted around by the next urgent activity.
Interestingly enough, the Psalm is attributed to Solomon (verse 1 in the Hebrew text). Solomon is a great example of someone who knew the 'wisdom' of the Psalm but chose not to follow the wisdom. Solomon's life was one of great accomplishment, great wisdom, and great influence in Israel's “Golden Age” of a United Monarchy. However, Solomon ultimately “lost focus” and wound up not only losing his children, but dividing the kingdom (I Kings 11).
Staying “focused on God” is a key message of the Psalm. Becoming distracted from God's presence and purpose for our lives can turn even the best of wisdom and work into a sleep-less, anxiety-ridden, and ultimately destructive exercise. It is so easy to just be caught up in the pressures of the day, the mania of having to get this done and that done, that we forget to pray, we forget to be nourished by the Word, and we “put on hold” vital fellowship with our brothers and sisters, family members, and friends. When this happens, anxiety and sleepless nights set in as we have no where to turn.
What activities are you planning in the near future? Is God in the picture? Is prayer and discernment part of the plan? Is it clear to you that the LORD is calling you to do this work, such that He is behind it? As the psalmist says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Particularly if we are considering a ministry opportunity, we must take care “how we build” (I Corinthians 3). As God's co-workers, we are not in the project alone. God brings the fruit. We are simply asked to be faithful laborers.
Involve God! He is the master builder.