Are You Working in Vain?



“Be still and know that I am God.” I love Psalm 46:10, but being still isn’t in my DNA. I like being productive.

My organized photo albums and the needle point pictures on my wall happened because I couldn’t be still when I watched television.

Yesterday was no exception.

My twenty-year-old son called me from college. I loved hearing his adventures, but my body squirmed after fifteen minutes. With phone in hand, I strolled to the gravel pathway behind our house.

During the winter, weeds had sprouted between the pea-sized pebbles. I held the phone near my left ear and yanked a tall blade of grass with my right hand. I tackled another. Then another.

“Sounds great,” I told my son. Little did he know Mama was working like a field hand while he talked about his summer plans.

I should have taken my Flonase because the pollen made me sneeze. Thankfully, my son couldn’t see me wipe my runny nose on my sleeve. I also should have worn garden gloves. Red dirt caked beneath my chipped fingernails. Bloody scratch marks marred my hand.

Two hours later, we said goodbye. By then, my husband had arrived home and found me weeding the garden. He frowned when he saw me. “Where’s your gloves?”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t the pathway look great?”

“You didn’t need to pull those weeds,” he said. “I sprayed weed killer this morning.”

I wiggled my scarred hand and envisioned the toxic chemicals seeping into the pores of my skin. If I’d been still while my son talked to me, I could have avoided all that unnecessary work.

However, there’s a spiritual lesson even in this.

When I was my son’s age, I was afraid I’d lose my eternal salvation. I worked hard to be the perfect Christian. I didn’t understand Ephesians 2:8. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Jesus died for our sins and He said, “It is finished.”

Once we’ve call upon the name of the Lord to be saved, NOTHING can snatch us from His loving, nail-scarred hands.

Just think of the effort I could have been spared if I’d been still and known God, instead of striving to earn what I already possessed.

Are you working in vain?

Photo: JennyWredePhotography

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

7 thoughts on “Are You Working in Vain?”

  1. I left a comment when you first posted this but it wouldn’t let me sign in to… Anyway, my main thought was the immense value of giving people (especially our family) our undivided attention. I think it’s the most effective way to make them feel loved in our “don’t have time” world. I know it is very challenging to sit and listen when we think we should be multi tasking, but our kids are so worth it! Great post. 🙂


  2. Love it, one of my favorite verses. In my translation-New American Standard-it reads: “Cease striving and know that I am God.” I especially like the connection to striving because it implies it’s useless effort….and in many of my busy times when I should have let well enough alone, it turned out to be useless. I’ve learned the hard way sometimes, God will do what He will do…and when He will do it. Patience is a virtue, just not one that I possess readily.

    Thanks for your insights.


  3. How wonderful this challenge is, to be still. It’s one thing to read and like Ps 46 but another to do :)) Must say, that’s me too – gotta be doing, writing lists, planning, sorting, filing at the same time as… ‘note to self ‘ 😉 Thanks Karen.

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