You gotta love the Bible. It breaks ALL the rules. As a writer I am always careful of absolutes such as "all," "never, and "always." But the Word of God uses absolutes ALL THE TIME. Rejoice always. Give thanks for all things. Love never fails. Whether God is addressing our words, our attitudes, our thoughts or our actions...it is always emphatically. So there is no surprise this week as we read about worshiping with our work that He tells us: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. BOOM! That is pretty all inclusive from sunup to sundown.
As I read this chapter I had to wonder what my life would look like if everything I worked at was done with all my heart and given to the Lord in worship. I can tell you it would look a darn sight different than what has been evident. My job at the moment is ministry assistant to Women's and Family ministries. I LOVE my job! I look forward to going to work. I love the people I work with, and I completely enjoy the work I have the opportunity to do.
But what if I had my friend Paula's job as a hospice worker? Paula sits with the dieing and gives comfort and support to those who are facing imminent death, some of them in unimaginable pain. Would my attitude be so joyful? Paula's is. When she shares about her job, you can hear the compassion and love coming through her words. She sees her job as ministry...a kind of heavenly midwife.
What if I had my friend Cathy's job at her retirement manor? Cathy french braids long, grey hair, helps her clients bathe and dress, decorates for dances, and perhaps the greatest gift of all...she listens. Cathy says there is a "story behind every door" and she truly enjoys listening to life stories of love and loss, of trial and triumph. She continually calls herself blessed because of her work.
What if I had my friend Lynn's job of stocking shelves in the wee hours of the morning at a local grocery store? She continually looks for opportunity to serve God by serving others in her workplace. Lynn has been an inspiration to me as she sees opportunity for service and mission in her job.
What if I could revisit my mom days...all of the cooking and cleaning, refereeing, teaching, the continual and non-ending everyday tasks of motherhood and homemaking? Would I see a woman who saw her everyday tasks as worship? Not often. Back then the idea never occurred to me that what I was doing day in and day out could have been worship given joyfully to the Lord. I certainly did see motherhood as a joy (sometimes), a gift (sometimes), as valuable and precious...everyday, but worship? Not so much. I think it was because so often I did it awkwardly, with a ton of "off key" moments. Who would want that????
I am in awe of a Lord who speaks to us with great compassion and tells us to bring our weaknesses and even our sin to Him...that He will take it. Load it up..load it on and in those moments of humble submission...we worship...giving all of our "off key, off beat, tone deaf" worship to Him...and He loves it! Who? Who is like our God?
I spent two days attending the Global Leadership Summit that comes out of Bill Hybels' Willowcreek Church in Illinois. If you get the chance to attend next year in August...jump at it. (For more information about this summit click here: http://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership/) For two days I listened to speakers who encouraged their listeners to work "as unto the Lord." Each speaker had their own perspective, but in the end it all came down to this: As you work in whatever tasks you have been given, do it with passion and a great attitude, remembering that this is your ONE chance to work for and serve the Lord and others. I left there pondering all I heard about being a positive influence in the work place. Whether it is in your home or at work, there is incredible power in a godly influence. I considered how we are given opportunities to influence and bless others everyday and in the process we have the opportunity to worship "in word and deed." There is a great difference between work and work seen through the eyes of worship. We act differently, speak differently, think differently.
I received a great lesson in the difference between seeing your job as "just a job" and seeing your work as serving and blessing others. Recently I traveled with my eighty-two year old mom to South Dakota. She hates to fly. It is difficult and even fearful for her. During our trip, she had no less than six different wheelchair attendants as we traversed airports. Out of those six two stand out clearly. One was a woman who treated my mom as a task she needed to complete, one that she did not appreciate taking up her precious time. She was abrupt, hurried and annoyed and my mom and everyone else near her felt every ugly attitude. The other was a man, Manuel, who treated my mom with value and kindness. He asked her about her trip, smiled and assured her he would get her to the gate on time. He made sure she was comfortable and ready to board the plane. He changed my mom's anxious and fearful mood into joy and laughter. I wish we could have taken him with us:). The other four attendants ranged from complacent to cordial. Manuel, out of them all, was the only one who saw his job of wheelchair attendant as something worth doing with joy and a positive attitude. It was obvious the others were simply working to get off at the end of a shift.
I am finishing this post after going to church this morning. The teaching was on the absolutely stunning, crazy, shocking love Christ has for us. We read from Colossians 1:15-23, an amazing passage describing the "supremacy of Christ" and His great love and sacrifice for us. It occurred to me while listening this morning that if we "got it"...if we "grasped how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ," maybe worshiping Him with all the work of our hands would become second nature.
One life...that is all we are given. Twenty-four hours in every day...and we have the privilege and honor to worship with as many of those hours as we like. What a thought!!! Well, girls, I had better get going. I am making tacos tonight as unto the Lord!
Love you, sweet things! May you "know the Love that surpasses knowledge" and "be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God," so that worship will flow gracefully from your lives!