The Surprising Truth About What God Really Wants From Us

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

John 6:10

We are the artists, made to move into the world awake and alive. But after a long week with lots of work and little progress, it seems beauty has decided to go away on a long vacation.

We are made in the stunning, spectacular image of God. Easy to say, but so what? A lecture on beauty won’t make any difference when the files pile up and the boss is mad.

But God’s is an upside down kingdom, and linear thinking doesn’t always work out.

Instead of working hard to bring lovely work into the presence of God, he invites us to do something surprisingly different.

Here you are today, with only anxiety, loneliness, and lack. Everything you touch crumbles into dust, every good idea shrinks into the shadows at the light of day, every small act of courage is quenched at the first hint of movement, every well-intended word is received with the furrowed brow of misunderstanding.

You have nothing beautiful to offer.

You have only frailty, difficulties, deficiency, and debt. Your only surplus is weakness, your only motivation is revenge and competition, your only measure of worth is performance and productivity.

You have nothing beautiful to offer.

You enter your job with hands filled with all of this nothingness, enter the office with lack and insecurity, enter the classroom with a performance based mentality, enter the kitchen with shoulders slumped at the thought of another day the same as the one before.

You have nothing beautiful to offer.

And yet.

A second look at what God desires from you turns up results you didn’t expect. God doesn’t ask for beauty; he asks for weakness. He doesn’t wait to be impressed; he asks to carry our depression. He doesn’t ask us to manage outcomes; he simply asks that we come out—as we are, not as we wish we were. And suddenly you realize you have weakness in abundance. You say you have nothing to offer. But look more closely now—you have anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion, and fear.

God says bring these to me.

This is your offering, your spiritual act of worship. The boy on the mountainside only had five barley loaves and two fish. If someone would have whispered to him that morning, These will feed five thousand men, the boy would have had a panic attack. It isn’t enough! It will never suffice. But the math of man does not compare to the economy of God.

“Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted” (John 6:10-11).

The boy offers his lunch in the presence of Christ. His offering was beautiful not because it was sufficient, but because it was offered in the first place. We do not have to manufacture beauty in our work today. We simply bring whatever we have into the presence of Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you feel the pressure to offer only beauty in the presence of God? Listen in the silence to your anxieties today. What weighs heavy on your mind? Do you believe Christ sits with you in these weaknesses, waiting to receive whatever you have? What does He offer in return?

PRAYER: Dear Father our creator, Jesus our redeemer, Spirit our comforter—we confess we have nothing beautiful to offer apart from you. We cannot redeem ourselves of our weakness. We have no comfort except that which comes from your hand. Thank you that in our weakness, you are our strength; in our brokenness, you are our wholeness; in our anxieties, you are our confidence. May we not despise our shortcomings, rather may they remind us of our need for you in all things. May it be so in our work and in every part of our lives. Amen.


Emily Freeman is a writer and a listener who creates space for souls to breathe. She is the author of three books including her most recent release, A Million Little Ways: Undercover the Art You Were Made to Live. She and her husband, John, live in North Carolina with their three children. Read more from Emily at her blog Chatting at the Sky.

Creating Beauty at Work

This article is part of The High Calling series, Creating Beauty at Work. While brightly painted walls or sleek, modern furniture might lighten our mood and inspire creativity, investing in the people we work with, helping them to bring the best of who they are and caring about them even when they can’t, is at the heart of a beautiful workplace. Are you or someone you know feeling a little lackluster about your work environment? Before you buy a new framed print for the wall, try complimenting your cubicle mate or saying thank you to the janitor. Or start a conversation with a coworker sharing one of the articles in our series.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Family Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.

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