Eyes On Your Own Paper

November 18, 2022  •   Tracy Earl Welliver

person looking at news on cell phone

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place.”

Looking at these words, I have to wonder. Am I reading the Bible or today’s newspaper headline?

It’s never easier to despair than when you glance up and take a good look at what’s going on in the world: disasters, natural and contrived, wars, resentments, rivalries, and divisions. It is almost too much sometimes, isn’t it? The twenty-four-hour news cycle doesn’t help. Add social media and it’s enough to push anyone into a nervous breakdown.

When you find yourself in this place of despair, remember Paul’s admonishment in his letter to the Thessalonians. Work quietly and eat your own food.

It’s not so different from the old “keep-your-eyes-on-your-own-paper” rule of the classroom. Poking our noses into other people’s business, we may think we are getting a shortcut to the right answer, but we’re really just getting distracted. When we become too preoccupied with events that we cannot control — whether they are happening in our neighborhood or half-a-world away — we are tempted to leave off the very specific work God has given us in our own lives. We are easily lured into anger, bitterness, and anxiety.

What is the work that God has called you to? Is it your career? Your family? Your community? What is your food — what nourishes you, sustains you, connects you to something real, powerful, and life-giving? This is what you should be concerned with. This is where your thoughts and your efforts should be.

Work quietly and eat your own food.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

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