Best of Daily Reflections: Enjoy Today’s Work
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
It's really easy for me to wait for the next big thing. It's a habit of mine, actually. When I was in middle school, I couldn't wait to be in high school; when I was in high school, I was chomping at the bit for college. Then, of course, I'd have my eyes set on graduation, followed by a ubiquitous backpacking trip around Europe, then work, and then marriage. In the heat of all those moments, I was mostly moving with my finger on the fast-forward button, eager to move on to what's next.
It's as though I've spent so much of my life in the waiting room, thinking that beyond those next doors lay the greener pastures.
It's easy for me to still do this with my work, as a writer and blogger. Working for myself has its numerous privileges, of course, and I daily thank God for the ability to make a living from something I'd do for free because I love it so much. But if you've spent more than half an hour on the Internet lately, you know how hard it is to turn it off and reengage in the three-dimensional world. The Internet, my workplace, is a behemoth of a thing, and it never ends.
Because it never ends, it's mighty tempting to constantly do "One More Thing." One more tweet. One more pinboard. One more comment left on one more blog. One more post idea that requires just a bit more research, a few more links.
And on and on it goes. The work never ends.
When we are blessed enough to love our work, it's easy to continually work on more, more, more. When we love the tasks before us, we want to work. God made us to work, so why shouldn't we work hard? Goodness, what a blessing to love working hard!
But I think there's a subtle difference between loving to work hard and working hard simply for more. It's tackling that never-ending to-do list because you want to arrive somewhere, because you think (like that middle school student who's sure in high school lie all the answers) once you've summited that mountain, you'll finally be content. It's the difference between working hard to earn enough and working hard to have the ever elusive more.
Psalm 37:4 is well-known, right? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. But we often skim past verse three, just before: "Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness." Trust, do, dwell, befriend. Do good. Dwell in the land. Befriend faithfulness. The actions here, done on our part, speak of being present where we are and where he has us.
Dwell in the land reminds me that I need to be fully present in the moment. It's the opposite of living in a waiting room. While these commands from God apply to all areas of my life, I can zero in on my work and see how there truly is blessing when I choose to dwell in the land that is my work: not striving for the next thing around the corner. Assuming there is joy to be found in today's work only beyond where it will take me tomorrow. Relishing the tasks set before me now, even though my eternal Internet to-do list will never end.
Work is more of a blessing when it is contrasted with rest. When I dwell in the land today, I can freely choose to rest after the day's work. I can honor the cycle God has given us of work, rest, work, rest. Love my work, yes. But trust that he has tomorrow under control. I need only to cultivate faithfulness for today, and to dwell, faithfully, in the land.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Is it a challenge for you to "dwell in the land" in your work? What's your experience in setting healthy long-term goals, while still focusing on the day's work set before you? Where, for you, is that subtle line drawn between working for the love of working and working for the always-elusive "more"? How does it look to befriend faithfulness in your work?
PRAYER: God, help me to remember to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness today. You've got tomorrow under control, and you've asked me only to trust you and your goodness. Help me focus, trust, and remain diligent, so that my day's labor honors you. Bless me with faith where I lack it. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Tsh Oxenreider is the main blogger behind The Art of Simple, a blog dedicated to the art and science of living simpler. Tsh is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler, and Organized Simplicity. Tsh also records a podcast with Homefries called The Art of Simple Podcast, which during one week ranked second under NPR’s This American Life as most listened-to podcasts.Tsh is also an advocate for Compassion International, is a regular contributor at (in)courage, and is an A-List Expert with Real Simple magazine. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe.
Feeling the Love at Work
This article appears as part of a series at The High Calling, called, Feeling the Love at Work. By work, we mean, wherever it is you find yourself in your days. The carpool lane. The church. The board room. The fast food fryer. The museum curator. The blogger. The nurse, teacher, doctor, lawyer. The stay-at-home dad. Some of us are finding our way toward our dream job, and others are wondering if our work really matters at all. What is it like to work in a job you love and, how might your work impact your affections in the other areas of life? Maybe you know someone who's asking these very same questions. If so, consider sharing these stories with them, via email, Facebook, Twitter, or through your other social media and friendship networks.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.