Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beating Back Futility

I've been listening to the audio version of John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life. Speaking of secular work he says something to the effect of "Work is not part of the curse; the futility that comes with work is part of the curse." This got my mind to churning. We were created in God's image. We have tainted that image by sin. But through Christ, the image of God in us is being redeemed.

I see this process being played out all the time. I believe part of the "image" relates to our creative ability to envision something in our mind, then bring it into reality by working with our hands. In our minds we often envision ideas and things without flaws. As a software developer I envision a "perfect" user interface that will allow users to seamlessly interact with an application. I envision a "perfect" recording of a band, a "perfect" concert experience, or a "perfect" set of custom acoustic panels. However, the warts and futility always appear in the implementation of these ideas. The software contains bugs - either in the framework or the development or even the design. The recording takes forever to accomplish and most of that time is spent doing stupid tasks like setting things up or smoothing out errors. The panels seemed perfect, but the backing boards are warped, or the building is not square, or the fabric is slightly discolored. This is the perfect image that is tainted due to sin. This is the futility.

The ongoing redemption of the perfect image comes as we work to beat back the futility. The work of the believer is to bring some redemption into everything we touch. We must keep hacking away at the software until the bugs are squashed. We must keep at the recording project until some semblance of the vision has become reality. We must keep honing the panels until they fit like the were meant to. It would be easy to throw up our hands, to embrace futility. But that is not what we're called to. We're called to bring redemption to what we do. When I'm mixing a show the day typically starts out as chaos. There's never enough time to get everything set up and running correctly. It almost never sounds right when the band starts playing. That's the futility. But there's usually a place somewhere during the show when everything falls into place. It's when I can sit back and say "That's good." That's the redemption, and that's what I will keep striving for.

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