I was praying this morning, asking for strength; this passage came to mind:
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work.
This passage brings to mind another verse that has been on my mind lately, and the light of the first gives the second one a new glow –
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.
His yoke is easy. Here I am, back again to this puzzling passage. Not only does he say his yoke (or “his work”) is easy; he also says that obedience feeds his soul. “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.” When I think about this in contrast to the things that I think of doing when I want to soothe or feed my soul, it seems like a rather strange idea at first. My first thoughts are not to get up and work, or to find what the Lord is telling me to do, and go and do it. My thoughts naturally gravitate towards things that would seem to me to bring peace. A moonlit walk on the beach, a hot bath, or reading something really good and meaningful; feeling loved, or listening to a beautiful song. But here is a rather different perspective on this idea of “feeding my soul,” an almost other-worldy concept. Especially in the world we now live in, where “work” is almost a dirty word – we don’t want to “work” – we want to have fun! We want to play, we want to enjoy life! We want, we “want,” we want… So many things. The original meaning of the word want was to need, or to lack. And we do need – we feel the almost constant hunger – the lack something, don’t we?
The Lord knows what they need; they know only what they want.
Perhaps this hunger, this lack – this need is at the root of our desire for and pursuit of happiness, and for pleasures, and amusements. Wanting to feel peace in our souls and happiness is a real thing – a good thing, it’s not a bad thing. I think the issue is that we’re not seeing the full picture: our idea of happiness is not a fully developed concept. Perhaps we just don’t naturally see the whole picture on this subject – yet. Not now, while we still see through a glass darkly. Jesus says, My food is to do the will of him that sent me. The food for the soul of the Son of God, was to do the work the Father gave him to do. Somehow – if we are of the same kind, and children of the same father, then the same must be true for us. Somehow it is by obedience also, that our soul is fed and nourished, as his was. To do our job, to do what we are supposed to do, to obey and follow God’s rules for life (- see that?) brings in the life and growth we need, and feeds our soul. If work brings growth, then it also brings life, for growth is a manifestation of life – it induces the flow of blood, and brings with the new flow of blood, the creation of new life. Could it be somehow that this dusty old thing called “work,” so overlooked and despised in our day, is our actual lifeline? Could it be that to obey our Father and his rules, not only help us to live a better life, but actually brings us growth, and gives our souls actual life? Could it be that to cut ourselves off from it, and to think the answer lies in repose is actually choking out the flow of life that we need to feel vibrant, strong, and happy?
I was thinking about the times when I have chosen to do what is right, and when I have done the right thing by other people; I can see that a couple of things happen. One, I do feel good afterward – there is a peace in my soul in knowing that I did the right thing, the thing I knew I was supposed to do, and so I can be at rest (instead of having an uneasy mind, resulting from having made a poor decision.) Two, I feel that when I have made good decisions that came at a “cost” or sacrifice to myself, looking back I can see how the Lord come in and worked. I see him help, I see the way he took care of “my end;” and whenever I look back on those situations God never fails to impress me. He always makes a way in the wilderness, brings good out of questionable situations, and makes even challenging roads bring growth and good, and a cure in the end. And this is just considering my side of the story, not taking into account the good that comes into the lives of other people when I make good decisions that benefit them. So in my life I can actually see that doing the right thing –which so often seems like the difficult thing, because I don’t understand it clearly or easily perceive the good – has brought growth, and goodness, and so more life to my soul. Through obedience I gain a better understanding of reality and the things that God is doing (more light), I am able to help a little in his great labor (helping others), and seeing these things and being able to process them in a better way brings me knowledge, and growth – and peace. So, I can see that my soul is fed; so, I do receive more life.
Jesus says, “I am come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” But the passage has more to say. It begins with this:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
How much negativity we hear in the air about work these days. How many comments that treat the idea of work as if it were the “only aspect,” that leave out the other side of the coin – the payoff, and the rewards for work?
Father – help us! Deliver us from the lying whispers, and the swirling mists that confuse us and turn good things upside down, that give a negative perspective to the things that you made for our good. Save us from distorted ideas that slide in like thieves to steal away our reason, to kill our conscience, and destroy our hope and our desire for life! Wash our eyes, and cleanse our minds and our hearts, that our vision may be clear. Help us to follow you, and to obey what we know to be true, and to do the good we know we ought to do. Obedience brings light. Help us to remember that your light is the life of our souls – without your light, your love, your life, our souls are in darkness. Hold our hearts, keep our heads, take our hands, and lead us in the way everlasting. 💛
So then, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, unmoveable, always excelling in the work of the Lord; knowing that the work that you do is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Cor. 15:58
Isn’t that a beautiful reminder? Seeing work in this new light, I feel like this is a good place for a mission statement, to re-frame my mind, to think and try to put into words the reasons why I work. Here goes.
I work because I love my Father, and because he loves me. I work because my Father has asked me to work. I work because my Father also works. I do what my Father tells me to do, because he’s never been wrong; every time I asked for help, and followed his advice and did what he told me to do, things worked out better than I could have ever “invented” or imagined that those situations could have worked out. And the side benefit of the work my Father sends my way, is that it also helps keep me out of trouble. 😉 I work because I believe that to obey, to do the will of the Father that brought me to life is the very food of my life, and brings growth to my soul, and peace and joy to my heart. I work because God has given me a family to love and to care for, and I am honored to have a beautiful way to be able to serve them, provide for them, and to protect them. I work to help others find goodness in this world, truth in the universe, and beauty in their lives, because I feel that it is good to do so, and also that it is a good way to give back for all I have been given. I work to express gratitude for the gifts, spiritual and material, that I have been given. I work because to work is to bring ideas to life, as well as giving me an excellent testing ground to see how accurate my ideas are. And I work because I feel that to work is to create, to give, and is perhaps the ultimate expression of what it is, and what it means to be alive.
– Why do you work?
Life with Bear – it’s not always lying in a bed of roses, sometimes you have to weed and coil the hoses. But when the work of day is done, your garden will shimmer in the golden sun.