Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Gift of Work

John 3:27 – A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from Heaven.

            I’m in the full swing of the school year now.  One way I know things are chugging along is that the first mid-9 weeks progress reports were due last week already.  One-eighth of the school year is over!  Another way I know things are moving along is that I can already clearly see the challenges that are in front of me for the year.

            If I’m tired or taking the “glass half empty” approach, I begin to think about Clarice who has done no homework and has already been absent four days.  Or I’m wondering about Roberto and how he’s lying to his parents about his work, and will only look back at you with a dark, glum smolder if you try to talk to him about it.  Naomi failed her first test even though it was modified and she was given a study guide for it that had every single item on it.  These are not new or unique problems.  They’re the typical challenges I face every year.  Every. Single. Year.  And sometimes around this time I’ll have a day when it all seems so wearisome.  Nothing new.  Just the same challenges again and again.

            Why can’t I have a year with some miracles?  On TV and in the movies, there is always a dramatic turnaround.  The teacher gets through to the student.  They see the light.  Two years later they are taking AP classes and the teacher is writing a book or teaching seminars on how it’s done.  But it doesn’t happen that way for most teachers.  It’s a day to day working of what they know is right.  Coaxing, cajoling, encouraging, scolding, praising, and reminding.  Sure five years later you see a difference.  But day to day it sometimes feel like laying the same rails and driving the same spikes over and over again.

            But I was reminded in church today that whatever we have is a gift from God.  My family, my job, my home, my health, my ability to quickly notice problems, that (pesky) ability to project many possible consequences, my experience to know which solutions will probably work best – these are all gifts from God.  Even the way my mind works – gift from God.  Work, and the weariness that it sometimes brings is a gift from God.  It gives me an opportunity to see God’s lovingkindness in the morning when I know He’ll be with me going into the day.  It’s a gift because it helps me see His faithfulness when I lay my head down at night after a long day.

            Maybe it was after a long week of work the psalmist wrote:

            It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High; to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night – Psalm 92:1-2

            So this coming week, my thanks go to Annie Johnson Flint for reminding me that when it comes to God’s grace,

                        He giveth,
                                                And giveth,
                                                                        And giveth again.


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