Working on the Inside OutApril 15, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.” — Psalm 68:12
I recently came across the following cartoon: Two rabbits are standing in a field. The first rabbit is standing next to a small green stem with a few leaves shooting off of it. The second rabbit, larger and more confident-looking than the first, is standing next to a much more elaborate display of greenery. Beneath the surface, the drawing reveals the first rabbit is standing next to a very large carrot – unseen, but about to poke its head out of the ground. The second rabbit is standing proudly next to a weed.
The caption reads “Success; it’s not always what you see.”
We live in a world that is overly focused on what we can see. Power, beauty, wealth, and the like. We often judge success by these outer elements. It’s no wonder that we tend to spend most of our time mastering the superficial arena of our lives. Almost everyone works OUT regularly, but how many of us spend time working IN? In Psalm 68 King David reminds us that our inner space is more important than our outer space.
Here is how King David expresses it: “Kings and armies flee in haste; the women at home divide the plunder.” Kings and armies are the ultimate symbol of outer dominance. They represent power and strength. They also refer to advances in science and technology which are ways of getting the physical world to make our lives better.
In contrast, a woman in her home represents inner mastery. She symbolizes inner achievements such as self-control, inner peace, and spiritual connection. In the Jewish tradition, as we approach the coming messianic era, we will favour cultivating our inner, spiritual selves over dominating the physical world around us. Humanity has already made it to outer space. Inner space is the final frontier.
Now, this is not to say that science and technology are bad or that we will go back to living in the Stone Age. When the psalmist writes that the women will “divide the plunder,” he is saying that we will still enjoy our external achievements, but only for the sake of our inner progress. All physicality will serve spirituality. Because real success is not what you see — it’s what you can’t see that matters most.
Try this for a week: make yourself a “working in” routine. You can supercharge your inner achievements when you make a list of your personal spiritual goals. Would you like to master anger? Maybe your goal is to have more faith. Set aside a fixed amount of time every day to work on them through Bible study, prayer, and introspection.