June 10, 2013

Whatever

Devotion for the Week...

I love quilting. I love trying new techniques and seeing my skills improve. I love seeing patterns emerge as I assemble bits of this colour and that colour. I love paying attention to details, though I don't stress too much over imperfections. I would love it if I could spend all day working on quilts, but I can't. You probably can't either. There is real work to be done. Though I say I work on quilts, it is more like I play on quilts, or I relax on quilts. Quilts eventually get completed, but it rarely feels like work.
Detail of Tulips and Spools, designed by Carol Doak

My real work takes the form of caring for children, both my own and the ones I babysit during the day. My work also includes meals, laundry and house cleaning. I am the janitor for our church, so once a week I go and clean there too.

In a passage addressed to the slaves of his day, Paul wrote, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:23, 24) I've seen this passage applied to modern day employees, but what about all the work we do that isn't part of a paying job? The 'whatever you do' part feels like it should apply to...well, whatever. After all, whatever work we do, we are serving Jesus, even is it is not part of our 'job' per se.

So, what does it mean to work with all you heart? It can't mean we like every task we have to do. That's not possible. There is no way I can talk myself into liking cleaning my bathroom. Nor does it mean we only do the jobs we like doing. No matter how long I have ignored it, the laundry has never yet folded itself. As we often remind our boys, work needs to be done, whether we like it or not.

I think working with all your heart means two things. First of all, we work to the best of our ability. That doesn't mean it has to be perfect. Every now and then, my 5 year old makes his bed and it isn't perfect, but he sure is proud because he did the best he could. Doing something as well as we can means no half-hearted work, no just doing the bare minimum to scrape by. That's not always easy, especially with jobs we'd really rather not be doing.

The second meaning is one of attitude. What am I thinking and feeling as I do the work that needs to be done? I confess there is sometimes silent grumbling or even whining going on. Of course, though it isn't noticeable to those around me, God hears every grumble and whine. I doubt He feels I am serving Him well in those moments. In an effort to stop my childish reaction, I try to remind myself to thank Him for the blessings associated with the work I'm doing. For each family member as I fold an article of his clothes. For the home we live in that needs regular cleaning. For the good food we have just eaten as I start the dishes. When I can remember to frame my thoughts this way, my mood improves and the whining stops.

Years ago, my husband and I were walking outside a strip mall when we passed a window washer who had paused in his work to speak to another man. I can't remember the window washer's exact words, but the gist of it was, "This is my job and man, these windows are going to shine!" We both agreed this was a man who took pride in his work, in a task that would be to many a meaningless and menial job. I think he is the perfect example of a person working with all his heart.

It would do us all well to follow his example.

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