“We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers – continually remembering before our God and Father you work of faith and and steadiness of hope in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 The Tree of Life Version)
OK, so I wanted to try my hand at writing to a theme today. Usually I just write whatever the LORD puts in my head, but yesterday, sitting in church, listening to the sermon on work, I felt the Holy Spirit tug me and tell me to stretch myself a little and start things from a different angle today. When we talked with the pastor after the sermon he mentioned that when he does a topical sermon he always starts with a word search through the bible to see what the scriptures say on the topic. So naturally, that’s where I started too. There are 115 individual scriptures in the New International Version of the Bible that have the word “labor” in them. I didn’t even get past the first 8 before I didn’t want to look at them any more! Almost every single one prefaced the word labor with the word “hard” or “harsh”, how depressing! So I decided, maybe I should look up the Webster’s definition of labor, maybe that might be a little more inspirational for a devotional blog… nope! According to my Webster’s New Basic dictionary and Thesaurus labor means: “(n) exertion of the body or mind; task; pains of childbirth, workmen collectively. (v) work hard; strive; maintain normal motion with difficulty; esp. of a ship, be tossed heavily.” I seriously thought to myself, THIS is what we’re supposed to be celebrating today??? Are we crazy??? And now that I’m thinking about it more, most of us celebrate Labor Day with a day OFF from laboring! Now, that doesn’t make sense either. So how do I write something inspirational and hopefully uplifting about a topic that is so depressing?
Maybe I should just start at the beginning. That’s what God did. If we look at the Garden of Eden and the very first thing that God gave Adam to do, He put him in the garden to “work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). But this job wasn’t labor, it wasn’t rife with toil or harshness. It was a labor of love! The ground had not been cursed yet, and was therefore easy to work. There wasn’t even sweat involved in the work. But then that serpent of old slithered in and ruined everything! He tempted, they ate, they were ashamed and hid, and then… in walks Daddy. Of course, like any good parent knows, He doesn’t really have to ask “what happened here”, because He already knows, He can see the evidence all over the ground, their faces, their fig leaves, but most of all… because He’s God. They offer Him their feeble excuses for what they’ve done and then their punishment is doled out:
“16 To the woman he said,“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:16-19)
The very first appearance of the word labor in the NIV is in the curse for the woman and birthing children, it will be labor. Curious, I looked up the original Hebrew for this verse and found that it can also be translated as worrisomeness, labor, pain, toil or sorrow. Now please, moms out there, tell me, how many of you have birthed a child and NOT been plagued with worries, pain, toil and sorrows ever since your child was born? The physical pain of birthing that child may have concluded at its delivery, but all the rest of it certainly hasn’t stopped since! Just this week my four-year-old has shed blood 3 times in a four-day-span and the worry that I have been wrapped up in as to the cause of all this blood shed has eaten me up inside! Yet, I also don’t know a mother out there that wouldn’t say that all of this labor of mothering is anything other than a labor of love. It’s hard, totally not glamorous, but completely worth all of it!
I have to admit, in the last 2 years I have been laboring. I’ve studied hard, researched til my brain hurt and written until I thought my fingers were going to fall off, all for the sake of spreading the good news that Jesus saves! Not just our souls for eternal heavenly purposes, but for TODAY and the life that we were created to live! I can’t even begin to count how many hours I have spent at my desk pouring over the scriptures trying to find the understanding I felt I needed to be able to tell people in an informed manner what God can do for them. I filled an entire book with the knowledge and insight that I gained from the Holy Spirit. And I OFTEN referred to True Intimacy as a child or a baby. I labored, like many people would never understand, to birth that book. The concept in it and the rationales behind them. Many never written out, but simply there in the background of the page, written in red between the lines. When it became very obvious that it was not God’s plan to immediately publish True Intimacy in a 3D printed format, I have to admit, I was crushed, but obedient and went the direction that God led me; this website. Creating it, praying for it, learning (the hard way) how to put it together and work the programs, to even writing and posting daily, it’s all been hard labor. But every second of it has been worth it, my labor of love for my creator and for you. Through this entire process I have said “people need to know about this!” and that’s why I’ve been writing. Not for the money or the fame of being a “published author”, although that has certainly been part of the dream, but for the simple fact that God delivered my husband and I so completely from the bondage of past sins that all I wanted to do was tell the world that Jesus saves! That Jesus frees! That Jesus loves! That God cares… about YOU! And honestly, if I never see a penny from royalties to the things that I write in His name I’m perfectly fine with that as long as the good news is being spread and read! And really, I think that’s the whole point of labor. Laboring in love for the people around you who will benefit from your toil. Putting our selfishness aside and putting those people first. When we make a dinner for someone who is home bound, it’s still labor, but the labor isn’t as toilsome when done in love, don’t you think? Perhaps that is because our hearts are lighter and therefore our burden is lighter as well. I don’t know. I just know that when we’re laboring for someone else to benefit it seems a lot less like labor and a lot more like love. 🙂