When I was training for a marathon, I would fill my pockets with orange slices in Ziploc bags. As weariness snuck up, one or two slices popped in my mouth would push it back and give me strength to press on another few kilometers. God's words and His encouragement sometimes come in bite-sized slices -impressions, experiences, encounters - and are just enough to push weariness back and keep us pressing on a little further...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Working for a Living

This world is no place for the faint of heart.  Children die in mall fires and in the scratchy heat of famine.  Illness stalks its prey and devours without discrimination.  The second law of thermodynamics shoves every last thing toward a destiny of decomposition and decay, our feeble attempts to hold it back crumbling like rust in its path.  Mention disappointment in any language and heads nod all around – we know it, we have felt it.  We have been disappointed, too.

I am glad I do not run this earth – I just work here.  The power to grant life or death, the wisdom to raise up governments or cast them low again is not mine to hold.  Directing the weather or the stars or the souls of men is a responsibility I’ve not been given.  And though I sometimes fuss and fret and deceive myself into thinking I can control more than I’ve been allotted (nothing but my thoughts, my words and my actions), ultimately, my powerlessness is a good thing.  It presses my heart to trust.  It presses that trust to God.

He knows this world is no place for the faint of heart.  He hears the cry of the childless mother and the weight of the doctor’s words.  He wrote the laws of physics and nods at the mention of disappointment – He has been disappointed, too.  He directs the weather and the stars and the souls of men, it is He who runs the earth and I just work here - but I work here. 

God rewards my trust with delegation.  While He controls earth and sky and sea, His intentions for mankind He shares with me.  He lets me be involved.  He drew me into His plans when I was born, breathing life first into my lungs and later into my spirit.  Now He breathes through me, warming cold and weary souls, whispering hope into hopeless hearts.  My job is to love and give and serve and pray and speak and praise, to sew and pay and bake and go and cry and laugh and hold.  I am asked to feed hungry spirits and bellies, to offer home to those with no home of their own.  Water to the thirsty, comfort to the weary, value to the downtrodden – there’s a lifetime of work to keep me busy.  Job security doesn't concern me.    

In this working life that is a privilege and a difficulty, a joy and a sorrow, I hold unswervingly to the hope I profess.  For He who promised (to be with me, to strengthen me, to love me, to forgive me) is faithful. And so I consider how I may spur others on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-24).  Could any other work be more important?

It is through love and good deeds that the world becomes bearable for the faint of heart.  It is through partnership – God’s strength, my skin; God’s voice, my lips; God’s power, my weakness but willingness – that comfort, healing, and redemption kiss the wounds common to man.  Most days I am more human than holy and don’t feel worthy of the task, but what God starts, He doesn’t quit.  He writes even my humanity into my job description, for who can empathize with a broken heart if they have never felt the sharpened stab of it in their chest?  Who can speak knowingly of forgiveness if they have never been forgiven?  Who can offer comfort if they have never known sorrow in need of comfort?  He who has called me is faithful, and He will do it – empathize, forgive, comfort - no matter what it costs.  It’s in the contract.

There are fleeting moments of feeling settled in this world, when the long-broken arms of Eden brush my own in simple pleasures – laughter with friends, early morning sparkles on the water, pistachio gelato.  Most days it’s good to be alive and work is a pleasure.  But some days I feel the silence of Eden.  It echoes with innocence lost and a world gone wrong.  The cries of motherless children and childless mothers rock my spirit till the tears are shaken free and fall like rain on a ground crumbling and thirsty for more.  Disappointment smothers like a blanket. 

We, who in this world march unswervingly towards decay and decomposition and are often blind to God's full intention for mankind, are pressed to trust.  We trust in an unseen future that will not disappoint, a home that will not decay or decompose.  We trust in a God who with His own hand will touch our cheeks, catching our tears with His thumb and casting them farther away than our memories will reach.  Spirits and bellies will be filled, the downtrodden crowned with glory, the faint of heart finally find themselves home.  I know, because that’s where I live – really.  I just work here.        

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." -2 Corinthians 6:4-10 

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