Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is considered the last holiday of summer and is designated to honor work. On Tuesday, we hit the ground running, preparing a packed fall schedule that includes sign-ups for school activities, football games, deadlines, and meetings. Car pools, bus stops, and lunchboxes make up our routine. We might sign up for Bible studies and a gym membership. Fall activities dominate and give way to Thanksgiving and plans for Christmas.
We look at each marked square on our calendar as a sign we are connected, involved, and maybe even important. Our work describes us. It may even define us. Though a full calendar may give us a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and perhaps recognition, it may also yield stress.
In the New Testament, a woman named Martha was all about her work. (Luke 10:38-42) Martha planned the best. A simple meal for the Savior? Hardly! She wanted a large-scale meal. Martha had the gift of hospitality and the skills to go with it. Verse 40 tells us that she was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Her anxiety led her to complain to Jesus, saying her sister Mary with whom she lived, is “just sitting there and has left me to do all the work!” Notice Jesus’ response in verse 41: “Martha, you are worried.” He didn’t challenge her work, but noted her worry.
As we begin a fall season, do you anticipate a crowded schedule and groan at the thought of “one more thing” to please one more person? Do you see consequences ready to unfold with too much to do and not enough time to do it?
Martha should have been ecstatic to have such a guest of honor in her home, but her self-centered focus and preoccupation with her “To Do” list left little room to find joy in her work.
Opportunities to work and the skills to do it are God-given gifts as are participation in activities we enjoy. When we prioritize, discard the anxiety, and exchange it for the peace Jesus offers we can honor work.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 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 NIV)
What about you? Is it time to look at your calendar and see if you need to make adjustments? What can you do to exchange worry and anxiety for peace and joy in your work? How can you look at routine and God-given work as gifts and embrace joy?