We are always looking to "gain" something in this life, aren't we? We may not want to gain a few extra pounds, but we want to gain interest on our savings, or gain the advantage over someone else in a game of tennis. We look for the "ins" and "outs" of each encounter, knowing full-well the position of power we have when we know how it is we will gain the advantage. Our minds just calculate things that way - what is it I will gain by being involved in this, giving this to that, or bringing what I have into the mix. Pretty seldom do we just get up in the morning and say with determined confidence that we will just go about the day "doing" whatever God wants, "giving" wherever he asks us to give, and "moving mountains" for someone else. We get up, prepare to go off to work, and then plunge headlong into whatever it is we call our "work". What we fail to recognize is the significance of our work - we see our work as what earns our paycheck, puts food on our table, or keeps our kids clothed in cold winters. Work is a blessing from God - it is his way of bringing into our lives the special blessing of "doing" what he wants, "giving" ourselves in way he desires, and using us to "move mountains" in his power. Instead of cursing the work, we should count it as a blessing with many hidden blessings underneath!
What do we gain by all of our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. Everything God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship him. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 CEV)
All our hard work - how many times have we bemoaned the end of "all our hard work"? Probably more than one might imagine. Would we bemoan it if we saw it as a purposeful investment on behalf of the kingdom of God? Probably not. Would we bemoan it if we saw it as being fruitful in some way? Probably not. Then why do we bemoan it at all? Simply put, we want life to be easy and when the demands of life present what we call "work", we just don't understand why it has to be so hard. One thing I have come to appreciate - the days which end well are those where I look back and see the investment of my time was "worth" it. When I just laze around day after day without any real purpose, I don't feel very fulfilled or satisfied. When I have accomplished something like the construction of a complicated workbook of data spreadsheets, or come away from a surveyor's review of our facility without any deficiencies, I feel pretty good. The difference is in the investment I made into the day. I "worked" my best and I feel good about it! Why? If we look at what scripture says, we feel good about ourselves when we are doing what it is we might just think of as a four-letter word: work!
God's gift to us is our work - regardless of what it is. We might be moms who stay home tending the house, raising the children, and engaging in simple projects which help our families save a little money. A noble profession! We could be called to work each morning on a new industrial site, putting our skills and knowledge of building codes into practice, so as to produce a building which is safe, sturdy, and built to standard. An honorable profession! We might find ourselves out in the fields, testing soil, irrigating, and tending crops with great care. A fruitful profession! We might realize ourselves in the midst of a great storm, waters coming in with such force many will lose all they have gained in this life, but in a moment are rescued from those waters by the skill of our rescue. A noteworthy profession! It doesn't matter what we go about doing each day, as long as we find our purpose in the work to be to fulfill what God has directed for our day! It is his gift to us. As much as the clothes on our back, the food in our pantry, or the car we drive to and from each destination, our work is his way of blessing us.
We may not fully understand everything which comes across our path in this life, but one thing is for sure - God directs the path of those whose mind is steadfastly considering his purpose and plan. When our hearts are directed toward him, we find our face is also turned toward him. When we are face-to-face with him, we also realize the tremendous blessing of being fully in the light of his countenance. This light guides our actions each day. In being guided by him, we find even the work of our hands and the strategies of our minds are a blessing magnified in his presence. Yes, there is much more to life than eating, drinking, and work. Yet, the significance of these is not lost when we consider the joy of fulfilling what God has called us to engage in each day. As we find purpose in what he has called us to do, we enjoy the blessings of those tasks - food and drink. Think about Israel in the wilderness. They were hungry - wandering that desert land and not really able to put down roots long enough to grow their own crops. So, what did God do? He sent manna from heaven. Yet, they were not "off the hook" in this provision - for they had to gather it! Even in the most divine of provision, there is a little bit of work on our behalf!
In our work, God often brings us to places of questioning the past and exploring the future. Why? We learn from the past - we engage in the plan for the future. The process of "learning" is based upon knowledge we add along the way. The process of "planning" is both a mixture of preparation and hope. We take what we come to know from the past, interject what we can into the plan for the future, and place our hope in the outcome being in God's hands. Yet, we engage in the process - through whatever he calls us to do in what we have come to call "work". Rather than cursing your work today - why not begin to see it is a place of learning from the past, preparing for the future, and enjoying the present? Just sayin!