A Prayer for Our Work

A Prayer for Our WorkI’ve been working in one form or another since I was 13 years old, first as a babysitter, than as a McDonald’s employee. I was one of the rare people who worked fast food for more than a week. I worked there 3 years. In my adult life, I have been an autism therapist, a children’s pastor,  a stay at home mom, and now, a leader in a different church community. Work has been a big part of my life, just as I’m sure it has been for yours. Work is part of our shared experience as humans, however varied the form that work takes in our lives.

But what is God's purpose for work? If it's where we spend so much of our time, what does it look like to live out our faith in that setting?

Work was part of God’s plan from the beginning. It is not a result of a broken world. It is not a mistake. It is intrinsically good. It is part of the design of humanity to partner with God in creation.

God could have filled the earth himself, but he invited humanity to be co-creators with him; to build upon his foundation, and create cultures, societies, cities, art, and more.

Sadly, though, after the perfection and harmony of the beginning, Adam and Eve became convinced that God was holding out on them. They grasped for something they were meant to find in God alone. They ate the one fruit they were told not to have, sin entered the world, and the effects snowballed immediately.

Before long, God pronounced His judgment about what would happen to them and to the world as a result of their choice. One of the big consequences was the nature of work.

Today we know how often work is difficult. That’s why complaining about it is one of the most common topics of conversation between friends.

The thing is, the Bible talks about the frustration of work, too. I love that the Bible doesn’t pretend things are easier than they are.

As part of our church sermon series on work, I did a message about the toil of work, and how Christ meets us there to redeem it. The above words were part of that message, along with a few more. I  thought I would share a link to listen to that message if you are interested.

Click here and listen to the message called "The Reward of Work."

And, as part of that message, I also wrote a prayer that I wanted to share with you. A prayer for how Christ might use our work to bring His redemption and grace. You can click on the picture above to print out a 5 by 7  graphic, or just read from the text below:

Christ, work through me today To bring healing into hurt To find potential in others To shine light into darkness To create beauty in ugliness To bring order into chaos. Christ, work in me today To feel humility regardless of success To be disciplined regardless of accountability To find joy regardless of reward To love regardless of how I am loved To seek You regardless of what else pulls my attention. Christ, work on my behalf today, As I rest in my identity as Your beloved.

Whatever kind of work you find yourself in today, whether in or out of the home, that is my prayer for you.

It is Okay

“It’s okay to have grilled cheese for dinner, you know.” Believe it or not, I found those to be great words of wisdom from a friend. Encouragement at a time I needed it.

I was sick. I wondered aloud whether I could actually do something like take a nap. My friend reminded me that it was okay to take a break. That it was okay to not always work hard at everything.

Why can resting sometimes be the most difficult thing?

I am an achiever by nature. I like to get things done. I like to do my best. And so, when I read the Bible, I focus on verses like Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

When I read that, I think, “Yes. I’m doing pretty well at this Christian life thing.” But then I read I verses like Exodus 20:11

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Oh. That one I’m not so good at.

If God rested, why do I think I don’t need to?

Because sometimes rest feels like a burden. Rest may mean I can’t check everything off my to-do list. Rest may mean that I have to settle for a mediocre outcome on something I wanted to be fabulous. Rest may mean I have to say “no” to something I wanted to say “yes” to.

Rest means I have to shift my priorities. It can be frustratingly difficult.

But it is meant to be a gift.

God instituted the Sabbath after the Israelites left their lives as slaves in Egypt. He was releasing them. Reminding them that they did not have to work every moment of every day. With Yahweh as their God, they did not have to live as slaves anymore.

With Yahweh as our God, we do not have to live as slaves anymore either. We are not slaves to tasks or goals or recognitions.

Rest is a reminder that the world keeps spinning even if I am not running on it. One less checked-off task does not bring the earth to a halt. Rest is a reminder that it is okay to be average sometimes. Maybe even below average.

Because my value as a human being is not based on what I do; it is based on what I am. And I am a beloved child of God. I do not have to earn that identity; I just have to accept it.

So today, I want to say to you what my friend said to me.

It is okay.

It is okay to not be fashionable. It is okay to get a B (or even a C) in a class. It is okay to leave work at 5 pm. It is okay to buy pre-made Valentines and not craft your own. It is okay to go to bed before your inbox is emptied. It is okay to take breaks from social media. It is okay to not stay up-to-date with every current event. It is okay to let other people down. It is okay to sometimes take the easy way, even if it is not the best way.

It is okay.

I did end up taking a nap. And the house wasn’t picked up when my husband got home. And we made frozen pizza for dinner. And I wore a sweatshirt. And my kids had too much screen time. And I didn’t read any of my book.

And it was okay. The world kept spinning. And I kept being loved.

What "It's Okay..." statement do you need to say to yourself today? What do you wish you could say to someone else? Do you ever have trouble resting?