A theme that keeps coming up for me this week as I read other blogs, journals, talk with friends, and do my "She Reads Truth" Bible Study on the book of Nehemiah is work. What has been interesting to me is how over and over again, the same message regarding work has emerged: Your simple job is a holy job. You don't need to go do something "radical" (in today's globally mission-minded sense) to be "working" for Christ. Whatever you are doing, right now, right where you're at is being used for holy purposes, and is therefore "radical" just by your obedience to get the work done.
In The Message (a paraphrased version of the Bible), Eugene Peterson states in the introduction to the book of Nehemiah: "It is common for us to refer to the work of pastors, priests, and missionaries, as "sacred," and that of lawyers, farmers, and engineers, as "secular." It is also wrong. Work, by its very nature, is holy. The biblical story is dominated by people who have jobs in gardening, shepherding, the military, politics, carpentry, tent making, homemaking, fishing, and more..."
In Nehemiah chapter 3 there is a list...a long list of the many helpers that helped repair the walls of Jerusalem. Name after name after name appears and then, next to each name, the job each person helped to complete. Chapter 3:15 states:"Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David." The description seems tedious and insignificant, especially after reading so many other names and jobs listed beforehand. But day 4 of the "She Reads Truth" study in Nehemiah had this to say about his "insignificant" work:
My job right now is being a full-time, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother to four young children. I spend a lot of time slicing fruit, folding laundry, wiping bottoms, and breaking up fights. In other people's eyes, it is a much less glamorous or praise-worthy job than say a fireman who rescues people from burning buildings, or a surgeon who saves life after life on an operating table. But who really knows the eternal impact of my job?! Who will my children become? And their children? And their children's children? And if I don't do my job well, meet their physical and emotional needs, train them up in the truth, and teach them about the Lord, how could that affect all of those future generations?! My obedience and commitment to doing my job well truly does matter. Neglecting my job or failing to recognize its eternal purposes is like tossing a lit match into a dry field. Who knows how far that fire will spread or the (generational) destruction that may come from such a seemingly tiny spark?
Sometimes we feel like we need to be "out there" making a difference. But we can be obedient to Christ in any job, even at home: "God sanctifies our work. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Hey! I do that everyday! Who knew that I could be completing the corporal works of mercy right in my own home?" (from the article "Asking for a drink", Soul Gardening, A Mother's Journal). As a mother, your acts of mercy (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked,) may right now just be referring to your very own children, but the truth is, they are His children. And ultimately, what you do for them, you do for Christ. ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40.
Your work is important. Your work is holy. It has eternal purposes and affects eternal souls. No matter what your current job is, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23.
Because hundreds of years from now, miracles may happen at your wall.
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