Immediate results

“Bonhoeffer did not expect immediate results. He died probably assuming his life had been a failure. We don’t see it like that. The distinction between being faithful and being effective isn’t an absolute one’ they’re actually the same thing in different time scales.”

I booked thirty minutes with a friend the other day and she graciously shared an hour and a half. I gather it blessed her as much as it blessed me: two women who work hard to love and listen to God, spouse, and teens (in that order) while accomplishing All The Things taking time to draw breath and open our hearts.

I was sighing, as I routinely do, about “playing the lottery” with my poems. About the disconnect I feel between my calling to write them and the response I get from the world. I’m not considering stopping—my definition of “calling” is “the thing I can’t quit doing”—but our usual ways of assessing fitness of call carry with them a burden of impact, of effectiveness. As little as my work travels into the world, it’s hard for me to claim much effect on it. I shook my head over how my heroes Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath are vastly better-known after their deaths than they were when living. Cold comfort, that.

She matter-of-factly stated, “You have a gift.” And we moved on to other topics.

Later in the day my sister sent me an article about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian and 20th-century martyr. It’s a 2015 riposte to those who were telling the author that Bonhoeffer is played out, old hat. (Is that even a thing with martyrs?) 

And included there is my complaint, no doubt also his complaint as he wasted away, imprisoned by the Nazis for doing the thing he could not stop doing. And the riposte to that complaint—that every time we feel tied within chronos, God is operating inside chairos. Goshdarnit.


Lord, I am being as faithful as I know how. You know I prefer the tangible, the obvious, the announcement with trumpets (or nightmares). Yet I do not expect immediate results, and I practice always to live content. I persist in searching out what you want for and from me, to have ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’ here and everywhere you are. May it be so. 

One thought on “Immediate results

  1. Being a creative writer, I struggle with this one too. Writing is intoxicating, wonderful, but you begin to wonder at its worth if nobody is reading it. I say that I don’t care, but sure I do care. But I say that I don’t.

    Yeah, it’s like that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.