Email Devotion Pentecost 16
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
The breathing is so slow and slight that at times it in indiscernible. Effort is being exerted, but the tangible results of that effort and negligible. “Labored” breathing to be sure. I am sitting at the bedside of a church member at the Hospice inpatient center. It is just a matter of time.
Breathing of a different sort is bursting from my own lungs this time. I am much younger with stronger lungs, and once again I am at a bedside, but this time I am standing and holding my wife’s hand. “Hee-hee-hee-hee-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo….” is the Lamaze breathing technique I am trying to embody as I strive to make “Labor” of a different sort more palatable for my wife. I am at risk of hyper-ventilating, the bedside nurse suggests to me. She is right.
I can see the woman’s back expanding and contracting at a faster pace than seems healthy, especially on this ninety-plus degree day, as I drive by the field in which she is digging … a hole? … a ditch? She is wearing a construction uniform, so I know exactly the “Labor” which summons her to this physical calling on a ridiculously humid day. I pity her, and in my guilt, turn the AC off in my car and open the windows. She doesn’t not notice my modest sacrifice.
Labor Day, is a public observance that has officially been around since 1887, when Oregon was the first state to pass into law an official state holiday. While it still serves as a day off for some, many continue to work on this day, especially those in the retail business and in the oversight of community pools and recreational parks. A lot of dad’s “labor” over their grills at the family barbeque, also. Of course, in life we use the word “labor” in a variety of contexts. Almost anything that demands some blood, sweat or tears qualifies as “labor.” I have even heard persons claim that their faith was a “labor of love” because of the difficulty of believing in God in a broken world. I guess it traces back to the Garden of Eden, and the fall of Adam and Eve. Adam was doomed to “toil” over the land that previously had been fertile and bountiful. That toil (or “labor”) has been with us ever since.
But our “labors” need not be such dim work. God has always intended for us to labor with joy in whatever the calling is to which we are summoned. As the world evaluates the importance of the jobs in which we work, God does not. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was to find satisfaction and purpose in managing the land that had been entrusted into their hands. It was only when they began to covet more, and desire things that were not theirs (the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”), that their labor turned down a path that led to toil and struggle,
So in your prayers and faith reflection this week, why not try viewing the work you do … whether you are compensated for it financially, relationally, spiritually, or simply with a sense of satisfaction … through the eyes that God first gave you … eyes of wonder, eyes of joy, and eyes of gratitude for all God has done for you.