Monday, May 4, 2009

God Work (by Billy Coffey)



I’m sitting at work, keys in hand, watching the clock. In nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds, I can go home and call it a day. Though what sort of day remains in question.

My life is no longer defined solely by job and spouse. Other things have been added to the mix over the years, things like children and blogs and columns, query letters and book proposals and deadlines. And as I was recently ambushed by a few college students who bound, gagged, and drug me into the modern world of Facebook, I now have something new to add to the list of What I Need To Keep Up With.

Keeps me busy, yes. But busy in a good way. Because I am doing what God wants me to do. God Work, I call it.

My job affords me the luxury of letting me roam about in relative freedom over fifty acres of a college campus and putting me in touch with a constant stream of people who are more than happy to share what’s going on in their lives. God has blessed me with three wonderful things: a loving family, the ability to hit a curveball, and a bartender’s ear. That middle one isn’t really relevant anymore, but the first and the last come in pretty handy. Writer’s block is something I’ve fought before, but rarely now. If I’m starving for something to write, I just stop what I’m doing and look around. Something or someone is bound to happen along.

Today that someone was katdish, who emailed me and said, “Hey, since you’re so lawesome and frigintastic, could you fill in on my blog occasionally so I can go live my life? Monkey sex pornographic cheese butler.”

Well, maybe she didn’t say that. I don’t remember.

But I do remember giving her an unqualified yes. Because katdish is pretty frigintastic herself.

Even more than that, though, was the fact that I saw this as more God Work. I want to write books, you see. And these days a publisher will pooh-pooh you away with a snorty guffaw if you don’t already have a pretty substantial audience. And since my own blog traffic is just a couple steps above sucktacular, I was looking for a way to attract more readers. To me, this was God saying Alrighty then, here you go. Don’t screw this one up.

The problem was that I had to sit down today and write something semi-coherent and quasi-brilliant. Which meant I didn’t have time to mess around with anyone. No talking, no visiting. I had more important things to take care of.

I had God Work to do.

So when the nice lady on the other side of campus began talking about what it was like cleaning out the closet of her recently deceased husband, I rushed through the conversation as politely as I could and said I’d pray for her.

And when one of the groundskeepers confessed that he was feeling terrible about a fight with his wife this morning over how much milk to put in his cereal, I said a quick it’ll-be-alright and left.

And when the phone rang and a friend began talking about his wife’s pregnancy, I said I’d call him back later.

Because I was busy.

Doing God Work.

Another quick glance at the clock. Four minutes and ten seconds to go.

My post is all typed up and ready to go. Mission accomplished. And it’s decent, if not good. I should feel great about getting all of that done. But I don’t. Not even a little.

Because I’ve just realized that I haven’t accomplished anything. Not the things that mattered, at least. Living a day isn’t simply a matter of crossing things off a To Do list. It’s more than that. I’ve bumbled my day by doing the thing I thought God wanted me to do rather than the things I knew He wanted me to do.

Those lofty ambitions we have, those dreams of things we believe will make us more suitable for God’s use than we are now, really don’t matter as much to Him as they do to us. Because while we’re busying ourselves by getting ready to do some good eventually, God’s tapping his foot because He knows we can do some good now. And it doesn’t have to be as moving as writing a bestseller or speaking to thousands. God’s more into little movements: bending an ear or lending a hand or lifting a burden.

That’s what He wanted me to do today. Pounding away on a keyboard wasn’t as important to Him as listening and helping and encouraging.

That’s God Work.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have to say, I think reading my blog has richly enhanced Mr. Coffey's vocabulary. So I just wanted to say, "You're welcome."

For more writings by Billy Coffey check out his blog: What I Learned Today

30 comments:

Peter P said...

Dear Mr Coffey,

It's ok you being the second best writer in the history of the planet on your own blog but now you're doing it on HLAC too?

That's just a little bit too much.

That was an awesome post. You definitely learned something today!

I think your books will be great, and guest posting is definitely going to help you with your platform. Do you Twitter? It's actually a great way to add blog traffic.

Nitewrit said...

hey Billy,

I'm been twisting in the wind over on my own Blog for a week trying to untie a know in a Post I started, writing nothing and here you are doing other people Blog. Maybe I should have you fill in for me when I get in such tangles.

Wish you well in your book pursuits. I don't know if I have the energy anymore myself. But wouldn't mind increasing my Blog readership. I guess if I am going to do that, I better get my typing in gear.

Larry E.

Sherri said...

As always, great thoughts that always hit home.

*p.s. don't let the editor taint you, Billy! Please don't start writing about monkey butts and the like. It just wouldn't be the same coming from you....

Billy Coffey said...

Peter - I am on Twitter. Guess I really need to get one of those fancy buttons to put on my blog, though.

Nitewrit - It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't bother with things like sleeping and eating.

Sherri - katdish made me.

Sarah Salter said...

Mornin' Billy!

All of us writer-types with double lives have to struggle with balance. For me, writing is that place that I can hide when I just can't deal with the rest of the world. I go through seasons when I feel overwhelmed by life and just hole up in my notebook with my pen. Three weeks later, I'll look up with bleary eyes and realize that I haven't grocery shopped, balanced my checkbook, or folded my laundry in a month. Because I know I have that tendency, I have to focus on keeping my balance. I have to LIVE my life instead of just curling up in a corner and hiding from it with a notebook.

Good luck with finding your balance. And good luck with writing for Katdish... I think that's bound to be quite an adventure. :-)

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Billy,

Great post. I have SO been there. Ever since I discovered blogging, I've struggled with the temptation to WRITE about life when I should be LIVING life.

Ironically, God gives me my best writing material from LIFE. Can you imagine?

Oh yeah, and he uses me the way HE wants to instead of the way I want to be used.

And I think it's admirable that you managed to mention monkey butts and pornographic cheese buttlers in this meaningful post.

People like Katdish offer us SERIOUS WRITERS the opportunity to showcase our AMAZING VERBAL EXPERTISE as we shuttle between the blessing and the crazy.

(Of course, she's only ever let ME do that in the COMMENTS. I'm just sayin.)

Annie K said...

Hmmmm....gives me a lot to think about (just what I need...more to think about. I already to that too much. I think.) Maybe I should quit thinking and just 'do'.

Anne L.B. said...

Billy, I'm so encouraged to know that a listener like you can struggle as much as a talker like me with remembering to always put people before projects.

And I understand about the bother of sleeping and eating.

Amy said...

Billy,
Wonderful post!!! Love it, love it! I sincerely hope that a book-deal finds it's way onto your desk, my friend. You truly ARE gifted!

P.S. Thanks Katdish for hosting Billy today! I enjoy your posts as well. Always hilarious!

Blessings,
~Amy :)

gzusfreek said...

Great post, Billy! whoo hoo!

Wendy said...

Lovely post, as always. Lovely. I do hope that in the future you will open up and share more on your feelings about monkey butts, pornographic cheese butlers and such. C'mon Billy, only you can make these things deep and meaningful!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Hi Billy,

Good reminder. I have similar feelings about the balance between writing and motherhood.

Thanks!

Travis said...

Well, I have to say, the new words you've learned are rather fun to say. Except everyone at my office now thinks I'm a wanna be surfer who doesn't know how to use cool words properly. It's kindof like Spock when he tried to curse in San Francisco on ST IV.

Oh, the blog was nice too!

Helen said...

Great post, Billy. So true, whether we think God Work is writing a poignant essay, or planning the perfect Sunday School lesson.

Billy Coffey said...

Travis - Trust me, hang around here and your vocabulary will increase exponentially. Just be careful where you use it.

Jennifer said...

Sometimes the interruptions are our work. Sometimes, I have my to-do list so stacked with things "to do" that I don't have time for the interruptions. But what if the interruptions were the very thing that God placed before me as The God Work?

Instead of making more to-do lists, I want to write more "to-be" lists. So that at the end of the day, I can look back and find some glimmer of Him in me, some shred of who He made me to be ... instead of finding some false sense of accomplishment in what I did or plan to "do."

Another great post, Billy.

And katdish -- I don't always comment here, but I do like to venture over here to your blog. You're a hoot! God's blessings to you as you minister to people through the gift of laughter.

jasonS said...

I really loved this post. I appreciate those real-life examples of what's important. I've been on both sides of the spectrum too many times to count.

I am glad I'm not the only one. :)

tonyyork said...

I heard a quote recently that went along with this topic... God's people are so busy doing His work that they have no time for Him.... or some such wording.

I like the way you approached in story fashion.

HEY KATDISH:

http://ephemerist.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/anti-monkey-butt.jpg

Beth E. said...

Great post, Billy! I, too, have been so busy trying to get everything done on my "to do" list, that I've failed to do anything for HIM.

Your on Facebook??? I'll have to look you up.

P.S. Hey, Katdish! :o)

Joanne Sher said...

Wonderful. So much truth here for all of us. As always, LOVED it, Billy. And thanks, Katdish, for hosting him here.

christy rose said...

Listening really is God Work! The kind of work that can't even be done without depending on Him to do it through us!

Chris said...

Bravo!

Chris Godfredsen said...

You're killing me, Billy! As I struggled through my day - frantically trying to make a deadline, I failed miserably. I failed in being who God has created me to be, and I was to stinkin' hours past my deadline, to boot!

Not only did I miss opportunities today, but I also stunk at getting through a busy day. I know that He will extend me His grace and peace - I thank God for that every day, especially right now!

The katdish world will love the fill-in Billy as much as your regular readers do!!!

katdish said...

Chris -

The katdish world already digs Billy from last week's post. And what's that's supposed to mean - "the katdish world"?

Just kidding. I know. I'm weird.

lynnrush said...

Awesome post.
And I'm diggin' the vocab. :-)

Beth in NC said...

Billy, too funny! I definitely didn't recognize you through your writing today. Me thinks the muse from this blog entered your fingers. hee hee

Anyway, it was great of you to help out a sister!

If you ever want to write on my blog -- I'd let ya! Especially when I'm out of town (since I am more than able to provide one or MORE posts a day). Ha.

Bless you!
Beth

JML said...

Great post! I can relate to that 100%! Sometimes we post just to get something up there, and it isn't our best. . . . So I understand that, but the whole notion of thinking that I have to do something good with my life and all that blah blah blah, when there's a lot of people who need help right in front of me! How much of a work is that?? Once again, wonderful post.

Anne L.B. said...

Beth in NC, I'm with you. Billy's voice had a different accent today.

Chris Sullivan said...

That'll preach

Prodigal Jon said...

Billy -
Great stuff. Katdish was bragging on your writing style the other day and I can see why.
Jon