December 2019

The Fruit of Labor

Ordinarily, when I sit down to write each week, I set aside a block of time (without distraction) to focus and to pray and to gather my thoughts. I typically do not work on the post in fits and starts, but rather hammer it out in one sitting. Today, however, in that time when I usually have quiet, my husband turned on the television and started a show depicting a small team of people who were preparing for a Victorian Christmas. In his defense, he did ask me if I minded, and I was quick to say, “Not at all, my love. I’ll be fine. I can concentrate.” Not only did I not concentrate on my communication to you, dear reader, I confess to you that I was completely captivated by the scenery, the language and the otherworldliness of this show making tribute to another time.

It was fascinating to learn, in detail, how food was grown, prepared, cooked and stored, how soap was made for scouring chamber pots, how grass was harvested and dried for hay, how a turn in the weather meant the loss of a crop of hay that would be devastating to the farm animals in the following season, how bricks were molded of clay, dried, and fired in a kiln (a process that took weeks) to repair a broken chimney, how locally made fabric was cut and stitched by hand to make warm undergarments, and how wrapping paper was hand painted to look like the marbled end papers of books printed in those times. The preparations for the Christmas feast for local tenants and servants literally took months.

I was a bit awe inspired by the dedication of the team members who were willing to give up so much of their year, to shed the conveniences of modern technology (and plumbing), and to reenact the daily existence of life on a Victorian estate and farm in order to provide a Christmas feast for the local community. And I commented aloud to my husband, “Talk about enjoying the fruit of your labor.”

Here we are, nine days to Christmas Eve, and I’m just now making a grocery list for our family dinner. We have decorated a fake tree, shopped online for presents to be delivered to our door, planned a menu to include a platter of chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant, and sent invitations via text, all in the last two weeks. We definitely live in far different times. We didn’t have to grow our vegetables, churn our butter, slaughter a sheep, or chop down a tree to furnish the yule log.

It made me think about my own commitment to good stewardship, my own ability to enjoy the product of my labor. In our world today, when most things are just a “click” away, are we losing touch with the satisfaction and fulfillment of really working for something, laboring to an end? We were created for a purpose, and I believe we are most happy when we are fulfilling that purpose. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” In Colossians 3:17, 23-24 he says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him….. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Lord God, creator of man and maker of heaven and earth, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you. Grant that my heart would always be steadfast, and that all my labor, what I spend time and energy on, would be worthy of your name and your character. You alone are my very great reward. Have your way in me and let your love, which never fails, be what motivates my choices today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

As we approach the celebration of the coming of our Lord, take some time, even a few moments, to consider the work of your hands as the expression of God’s grace to you and your response to Him in worship.

Until next week, labor in love and enjoy the fruit of peace and goodwill.

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