On Trusting Our Work to God: A Guest Post by Anita Mathias

by | Apr 29, 2014 | Encouragement, Guest Post

I’m knee deep in the swell of packing, running errands and checking off my to-do list of exactly one million things as we prepare to travel to London, England. H and I will be attending a Leadership Conference and celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary this week. (Um, yeah, we got married when we were 12.) Because my brain is on fire from thinking, I’m delighted to introduce my friend from Oxford, Anita Mathias. Her words are sure to inspire. Give her some love in the comments, won’t you?


Joseph is seventeen when he sees his sheaf stand up and his brothers’ sheaves bow down. When he sees the sun, moon and eleven stars bow to him.

* * *

Interestingly, God shows him his destiny, the end of his days, but not what he needs to do to get there.

And that is because there is nothing Joseph needs to do to get there. God will do it all. Joseph merely needs to cooperate as God forms the character necessary to bear “the weight of glory.”

* * *

Our lives are full of ironies: There are always two stories going on: what we think is happening, and what God knows is happening, what He is doing.

What Joseph thought was happening was pits and the pits—betrayal, slavery, false accusation, prison, being forgotten by those he helped.

What God knew was happening: Joseph was developing administrative experience, integrity, trustworthiness, gifts of dream interpretation, people skills. He was being prepared for greatness in the very years he thought were wasted.

* * *

Slavery to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, leads to Joseph being put in charge of his household, thus developing the extraordinary administrative gifts he probably didn’t even know he possessed.

Unjust accusation and confinement to a dungeon leads to him running the prison, and meeting those in Pharaoh’s circles, learning how Egyptians speak, dress, behave and think.

And what was paramount, he develops character—loyalty, diligence, organization, sexual purity. He sheds self-pity and any pridefulness over his spiritual gifts. He learns the great lesson of trusting God.

And through an improbable series of events—in line with his seminal gift–God moves him upwards.

* * *

There is so much stress in our world on hustling and networking. Perhaps too much?

But ah, the time we would save if we did our work with our eyes on God, without incessant networking with one another, hoping for a hand up, and a leg up, discovery, and a big break. Cannot God give us all these things as we do the work? I do believe he can and he will, when the time is right.

None of the spiritual giants in the Bible networked and hustled to get the word out about themselves. Can you imagine Jeremiah or Isaiah or Ezekiel making nice so people would put in a good word for them with Ahab or the current wicked king?

And what good would that have done them? Their work, their power, their career, their specialness came from this strange, insistent thing that kept happening to them. They heard God speak. And they wrote with pens of fire: “Thus saith the Lord.”

Transcribing what they heard God say made their words special, and God ensured that their words endured. They kept their eyes on God. God promoted them.

Is it possible today in the twenty-first century to do the work and leave the rest to God? To let God organize our careers?

* * *

All those dreadful things that happened to Joseph were, in fact, God organizing his life. God organized that Joseph was bought by Potiphar and learnt to run a country house. God organized that Joseph was falsely accused and learnt to run a prison. God organized that Joseph met Pharaoh’s cupbearer in prison, and validated Joseph by giving him the correct interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream, thus arranging for him to meet Pharaoh.   

I know many people worried about their blogging or writing careers, worried about getting the word out about themselves.

But what if we just did our work, listened to Jesus, and wrote what we heard–could we not trust him to get our words out to whom they might bless? A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

This is something I am increasingly trying to do.

I have come to the place where I have no energy to network, nor the temperament to flatter, to pretend to like what I do not like, to maintain relationships for what good the other person might do me or my career. And how could God possibly bless such relationships?

I know this is the way the world works, I know this is the way business is done, but might there not be a more excellent way, of loving relationship, not networking; of trust, not hustle? A way of being in which we cannot do better than to leave our careers to him? I do believe it.

anita_picAnita Mathias is the author of Wandering Between Two Worlds  (Benediction Classics, 2007) and has just published her first children’s book, Francesco, Artist of Florence: The Man Who Gave Too Much. She has won a writing fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The London MagazineCommonwealAmerica, The Christian Century, and The Best Spiritual Writing anthologies. She has just returned from a blogging trip for Tearfund in Cambodia.

Anita lives in Oxford, England with her husband and daughters. She blogs at Dreaming Beneath the Spires. You can find her on Twitter @anitamathias1 or on Facebook at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.


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  1. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Anita, anyone who writes beneath the spires of Oxford, is a friend of mine! May I come visit? =] I adore England, and my family and I have visited four times. I could think of no more inspirational place to write. In fact, we just visited Oxford this past summer. My daughter relished visiting Eagle and Child (which she fondly called Bird and Baby, but I’m sure didn’t invent that), and sat in the midst of Inklings’ memories. I particularly loved visiting the chapel at Keble College and stood mesmerized by The Light of the World. Forgive me for digressing…..because this is such an important post. Some gravitate to marketing and promoting and do it well, but not I. I never relished that part of writing and speaking. I tried to be obedient to pick up my pen or put it down at God’s direction. And I knew that He knew my address, should He ever want to come get me for another assignment. I do know that all the marketing is *expected.* And perhaps that is why I’m an unknown writer. But I must say, painful as it has all been at times, that I tried desperately to obey, and leave the results with God. I also agree with you, that while me might be languishing somewhere like Joseph in unseen obscurity, that God is still at work, orchestrating minute details of our lives for His ultimate glory. We see that in Joseph’s life, Moses’, Esther’s, and countless others throughout Scripture. I hear you loudly and clearly, and I think you are onto something. The better way is leaving the best way up to Him. God bless you in your work for the Master, Anita. And who knows that He will cross our paths in England someday. . . along with Shelly’s! I’d love that.

    • Anita Mathias

      ” I also agree with you, that while me might be languishing somewhere like Joseph in unseen obscurity, that God is still at work, orchestrating minute details of our lives.
      I knew that He knew my address, should He ever want to come get me for another assignment.”
      Indeed! The balance between finding readers for our words ourselves, and doing the work and trusting our PR to him is a fine one–which I am gradually learning.
      Thank you for your comment!

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    My dearest Shelly!
    I just had to wish you a happy bon voyage. You are in my prayers for a fruitful, safe, yet exciting visit.Give H my love.
    PS Thanks for introducing us to Anita. She’s lovely.

  3. Elizabeth Stewart

    This blessed me more than words can say. God has been speaking to me repeatedly about submitting to and trusting in His processes in my life and specifically using the story of Joseph to do so. You’ve driven the point home beautifully.

    • Anita Mathias

      Wow, Elizabeth, thank you so much! And thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. Addie Zierman

    Lovely Anita. I’d never thought about the story of Joseph in regards to the “writing career” stuff (strangely). This line struck me: “Interestingly, God shows him his destiny, the end of his days, but not what he needs to do to get there.” Thanks for sharing this.

    • Anita Mathias

      Thanks, Addie.”Interestingly, God shows him his destiny, the end of his days, but not what he needs to do to get there.” It was kind of unhelpful of God, wasn’t it–but, I guess, Joseph’s paramount necessity was character. Doing less and being and becoming more.
      It’s a comforting thought for tired and burnt-out times!

  5. Sheila Dailie

    And that is because there is nothing Joseph needs to do to get there. God will do it all. Joseph merely needs to cooperate as God forms the character necessary to bear “the weight of glory.”

    Though I’ve always loved the story of Joseph, I’ve never thought of it quite that way. Now the inspiration of Joseph is an encouragement to rest in HIM!

    • Anita Mathias

      I am wondering if that is really our great work, to rest in him, to listen to him, and to do what he tells us. How much futile and misdirected effort we would be saved!

  6. Beth

    Oh, I just love this encouragement this morning. I love the story of Joseph and love how you used it in this message. Like my friend Elizabeth commented below, this blessed me very much. I’m so glad I stopped in. Thank you. And thank you, Shelly, for hosting Anita here. Happy almost Anniversary to you. It’s 24 years this year for my huband and I too. I’m so glad he should be home by then to celebrate. (We were married when we were 12 too. LOL) Blessings. xoxoxo

    • Anita Mathias

      It will be 25 for us later this year! Thank you, Beth!

  7. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    My husband and I were just speaking about this topic this morning. About allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work, and not writing in my own power. Timely, wise message Anita. Thank you!

    • Anita Mathias

      I too find that my blog posts are better received when I simply record what the Spirit is saying–even if he only utters 200 words, and they are deceptively simple. Writing becomes tiring and time-consuming when I try to help him out. “Come on, Holy Spirit, my signature length is 800 words and 3-5 points,” I think, and thereby exhaust myself for nothing.

      • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

        Yes! I’m relinquishing my thoughts this morning to the Holy Spirit. Thanks again Anita for your very accurate perspective.

  8. Natalie

    What lovely, timely, and truth-filled words, applicable to so many elements of my life, not just my writing life. I especially liked this: “God shows him his destiny, the end of his days, but not what he needs to do to get there.” It’s a journey of faith, not of sight, isn’t it?

    • Anita Mathias

      Natalie, thank you for reading and for the encouragement! 🙂

  9. Nancy Ruegg

    What a powerful post, Anita! Out of the familiar story of Joseph you have revealed new insights: 1) Joseph didn’t need to do anything except cooperate with God to reach his potential; God did everything. 2) There are two stories going on–what we think is happening and what God knows is happening. 3) Do the work and leave the rest to God.

    Thank you for shattering some of the “rules for getting published.” You are spot on in your evaluation!

    • Anita Mathias

      “There are two stories going on–what we think is happening and what God knows is happening”

      I find this really encouraging in my own life, which often goes through seasons of quietness and winter, as if nothing is going to come of all my sowing. And then, boom, God steps in, and there is action, a sudden spring. Spring!

  10. Tony Chung

    As a man in the throes of a career transition, I appreciate that my friend posted this article on his Facebook wall. For the last few months I’ve been frantically pursuing what I thought God would have for me, when all He wants is for me to rest in Him, to depend on Him, and to trust in Him.

    I too quickly forget that it was a Holy Spirit move that brought me out of a dead-end job into where I can truly enjoy the work that I do. And in the last few years, God’s been turning my heart to look even further. It’s so nice to know that when the moment is right, He will also open the doors.

    • Anita Mathias

      “I’ve been frantically pursuing what I thought God would have for me, when all He wants is for me to trust in Him.”

      Oh me too. I think he “makes us down to rest,” in the words of Psalm 23 to teach us that lesson when we don’t or can’t learn it on our own!

  11. Ahyana

    Just the other night I double checked with God that He was sure He didn’t yet want to open the doors I have been begging him to open specific to my career. In fact I sent Him up a message, saying “I know I am almost 30. Is that when things will happen? Is that how you’re making me like Jesus? His ministry “started” at 30. But He died three years later. Am I going to die at 33?”
    I laughed, but it’s true. It’s hard to not wonder with a mixture of indignation and self pity what must I do in order to have the life I am sure God wants to give me as opposed to allowing Him to shape me into the person I must be in order to live the life He wants me to have.

    It’s hard not to wonder if God is wasting my years and not always seeing each one as a carefully crafted part of His plan for me.

    Thank you for this post Anita!!!

    • Anita Mathias

      Yes, it’s totally rough. I too don’t have “the life I am sure God wants to give me,” and if I do have it, it will come way later than I would have liked it, but totally at the time I am ready for it. I just have to accept that in faith, and smile!

  12. francie

    Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way the truth and the life: No man comes to the Father, but by me. That is the truth. No other way. Jesus. KING of kings and LORD of lords. I disagree with your post article on” prayer in churches” you gave your opinion that all prayers are answered by God no matter which God people had been taught to pray to. That is not what the word says.
    The only way a muslim or hindu’s .etc..prayer are answered is if they humble themselves to pray to our Lord and Savior Jesus and ask forgiveness of their sins and believe in our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. I pray you speak and write truth. Not “tickle” ears of what people want to hear in these end times. As the WORD says false teachers will do. In Revelation 22:18 reveals the danger of doing so.

  13. francie

    Anita. I posted last night John 14:6 “Jesus is the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me” in reaction to your writing about people of other faiths prayers being answered no matter what name they call our Lord. Please know I would never want you to feel condemed or unloved by my comment. I only want to speak the truth in love. So please forgive me if I made you feel less than loved

    In these end times I feel an urgency to protect and snatch others from the fire. The “great commission” in fast forward.Much like a parent protecting a child from an electric outlet or burner on a stove. I am so in love with our Lord and Savior Jesus that I dont want anyone to miss out on such a miraculous,grace and love filled relationship.He’s Alive. I pray the best for you and your family and pray Jesus’ love and grace abounds in your life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Francie

    • Anita Mathias

      Thank you Francie. Your comment is a little off-topic on Shelly’s blog, but for the record, I said i believe God hears the prayers of every human being who are all his children, no matter whether they call him Jehovah, Rama, or Allah. Scripture is full of evidence that God so loved the world, and as I said, God was concerned for the people of wicked Ninevah, and even the cows in it.
      Happy to dialogue, though do comment on my blog for posts unrelated to this guest post which is a one-off post on Shelly’s blog 🙂

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