When All You Do Is Not Enough
 Photo by John McNamara

Photo by John McNamara

"To obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15:22)

What else can I do? I've put in the time. I've done my duty. I've fulfilled my obligations. And still, still it's not enough. Why do you tease me with dreams, when they dissolve with ease and without care to my heart?

Even though I doubt, I still persevered. And for what? For character? What will that get me?

I return to my first love, over and over—it's resonance shaking me within and without. But though I love, I do not overcome.

The straight is so narrow, I lose my balance. But the path seems to end—weeds and thistles reach into the path and cut. Where does this path lead anyway?

How can Habakkuk speak those words? "Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines … yet I will rejoice in the Lord."

My heart is no God target; he does not pull his bow to unleash his hot arrows upon me. I do not lift up idols. I am not running from my task. Why then, the travail?

And yet, my heart knows nothing else but the fierceness of his love. I walk. I run. I bound up the mountain set before me. I fall back to the place where I began. Broken bones, broken spirit, I sit in a heap.

The wind blows my name, and pushes me back to the mountains side. "Climb," it says. "Climb, my son."

The dead-end path of narrow thistles landed me here, in front of this mountain. And a spirit wind speaks to me.

"We are not responsible for success," writes theologian Klaus Bockmuehl, "but we remain responsible for obedience."

And so, I climb.




Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.