Back to work we go!
|"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen, and I’ll tell you where to get good food that fattens up the soul! Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake" (Isaiah 55:2-3a).
By BISHOP ROBERT HAYES JR.
As I glance at my calendar today, I realize another summer of lofty plans is fading quickly, gone before those plans had a chance to bloom. What became of the day-long fishing trips I meant to take? And I see on a shelf those five books I had hoped to read.
Where did the time go? I had such good expectations for carefree moments this season. Looking at my calendar today, I feel a sense of loss and, yes, I am even glum about the workweeks to come.
Sometimes we dread returning to the familiar tasks that await us. Perhaps sometimes you ask yourself, as I do, questions such as these.
Is there anything that can ease the pain or numbness when I don’t feel like returning yet again to those tasks?
Is there any word that can give my weary soul a lift?
Yes, there is such a word for today. In the Bible I find the encouragement I need at such a time. I commend the words to you also.
That word comes from the pages of one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament—Isaiah. This man of God discovered a great truth when he observed how we get spiritually tired and depleted in our daily tasks.
When we work for the food that does not fill us up, and we labor for that which does not satisfy us, we are working for all the wrong reasons. Life is more than food and money. If there is no point, no meaning, and no direction to our labor, then we are caught in an endless cycle; our efforts lead us nowhere.
Isaiah found there is a direct correlation between God and how we spend our time and what we do for a living. Unless we bring God into our daily routines, regardless of what we do, nothing will be accomplished.
We commit a grievous error if we confine God to our sanctuaries and houses of worship, thinking God is only interested in matters of the spirit.
God is a working God! After six days of labor, God had designed a world that must be cared for and looked after, and that is where we come in!
Read God’s great commissions and revelations in the Bible. God was made known to the working people of that day—the shepherds, the farmers, the soldiers, the fishermen, and tax collectors of that time. In fact, God’s greatest commission was given to a carpenter!
God still is made known today through our labor. God comes to us in our fields and factories, schools and shops, homes and offices—wherever we toil and work. According to the writer Elton Trueblood: "God may care more about factories and offices than about church buildings, because more people are in them more of the time."
It is unthinkable that God would care little or nothing about that which occupies most of your days’ time and attention.
There should be no conflict at all between your vocation and your allegiance to God. Today I urge you to see that whatever work you do—as long as it is honorable and constructive—can be viewed as ministry. For if you are performing your job with the God-given talents and energies endowed by your Creator, then you are at work in God’s vineyard.
Every Christian should know, with the deepest conviction, that the work in which you are engaged is God’s purposeful will for your life. We are partners with God in those now-dear familiar tasks, and what an exciting perspective it is to see ourselves laboring alongside God in the creative works of earth!
Picture yourself as a laborer with God, giving your best, and you will realize the holy purpose and meaning of your work. You will see what you do as beneficial not only to humankind, but also in cooperation with the Divine scheme of the universe. Thus the work that you perform will be known truly as work done "unto Christ" (Ephesians 6:5)—and the attitude and aptitude that follow will enable you to become proficient and proud in your vocation.
Isaiah reminds me that my routine work is filled every day with holy purpose. I will follow his advice because, when I sense God’s presence, my weariness leaves me and I again take up my work, with a renewed sense of the splendor in ordinary living, and with a renewed conviction that God is with me every day of the week.
Here, then, is the cure for the fatigue and boredom of routine labor: Understand that whatever you do, you will find God in it! God makes Himself known in so many ways. All you need to do in those weary moments is open yourself to take notice of the wonders that God so often sends your way every day.