What’s the point?

Photo: Mark Fletcher-Brown, Unsplash.

Unless it is the Lord who builds the house, the builders’ work is pointless. Unless it is the Lord who protects the city, the guard on duty is pointless. It is pointless that you get up early and stay up late, eating the bread of hard labor because God gives sleep to those he loves. 

— Psalm 127:1-2, Common English Bible 

“Pointless, pointless, pointless,” exclaimed the psalmist Solomon (echoing the Teacher in Ecclesiastes). A waste of time. 

Who would ever pursue pointlessness on purpose? We would prefer to engage in meaningful work, desiring to be beneficial, useful and valuable. 

But how do we get there? How do we not waste our lives? What’s the point of it all?

What I hear in Solomon’s words is that unless the Lord is doing the thing, it’s pointless to pursue it. So the question becomes, “God, what are you doing, and how can we join you  there?”

God, are you building this house? Guarding this city? Are we trying to build or guard something you are not? Are we spending energy and resources trying to keep or create something you are not? 

Because if so, it is all in vain.

My mind is drawn to the crowds who wanted Jesus to build a different kind of kingdom. Or those who desired him to guard and protect their rules and regulations, their positions or power. But that wasn’t the work Jesus was doing. 

Here’s the tricky part, though. Jesus wasn’t always doing the same kind of work in the same kind of way. Sometimes he’d minister long into the night. Other times he walked away from it midstream, taking his disciples with him for rest. Sometimes he’d heal with immediacy and sometimes delay. 

How’s a person to know? One must lean in, listen and look. It would be wise to pay close attention — to ask rather than assume. 

I once learned that the hard way. 

It was a decade or so ago, as I set out to build a new ministry. (That statement alone should sound the sirens.) Just a few months prior, I sensed the Spirit leading me to step away from a ministry I founded, directed and loved for nine precious years. 

Instead of asking God what to do next, I just assumed: Of course I should start something new! I jumped in with gusto (but possibly without God) and began spending time and resources building the new thing. That’s when it happened. 

I was praying when I saw it, a vision of sorts that played out in my mind. I saw two toddlers playing side by side with building blocks. They were both building towers, each their own. 

I recognized that this was God and me, playing together but apart. 

From that picture, I sensed the Spirit admonishing and inviting me in three ways. 

First, to stop building. To put the blocks down and take a giant step back because I was impeding the work God wanted to do. 

Second, to let God build what God was building and not interfere. 

And finally, to join God there. To help build with God. 

Intrigued, and anxious to build anything, I innocently asked, “What are you building, God?”

God said, “You.” 

Incredulous, I asked again and got the same answer: “I am building you.” 

I told God that was preposterous and that I didn’t share this priority. I reminded God of all the needs in the world, and I challenged God’s wisdom. 

But it was a moot point. God was bent on building me and inviting me to join the project. 

After a few all-out arguments, I listened, and for the next number of years I stepped away from almost all output. I had been so busy building everything and everyone else that I didn’t recognize how much I, myself, needed building. 

Only when I stopped did I realize the depth of healing I required. The accumulated grief I carried. My blessed ego that needed emptying. 

God’s work and God’s ways are sometimes puzzling but never pointless. Even Jesus had to pay attention to align with them. 

Jesus’ dependence on the Father models this for me. He declared that he only did what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19-20) and only spoke what he heard the Father saying (John 12:49).

Jesus’ responsiveness to God was very on point.  

Jenny Gehman

Jenny Gehman is a writer and retreat speaker in Millersville, PA. Jenny writes a weekly devotional, Little Life Words, at Read More

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!