The Mission of Work.

((from Natalie))

Someone once told me that you can tell a (wo)man’s character by the way (s)he sweeps the floor.  I think of that statement now nearly every time I pick up a broom.  I kneel to get the dust bunnies from beneath the furniture. I move chairs out of the way.  I have a habit of sweeping everything into gathered piles and then collecting them all into the dustpan at the end of the job.  It’s satisfying for me to see it all pour out into the trashcan at the end.  I try to do a good job.  (Sidenote: There are always crumbs on my floors! With kids in the house, the job is never really ever done. And the temptation to get a dog to help with the job is ever-present.)

Here’s the thing: I don’t enjoy sweeping the floor.  I’ve never been someone who finds my ‘zen’ in cleaning.  I wouldn’t say it is satisfying because I like cleaning.  It’s satisfying simply because: it’s work.  Work, after “be fruitful and multiply” was God’s first mission for man and woman.  In the beginning, it says He put Adam to work, tending to the garden and naming the animals. And then He made woman, not as entertainment or even as a simple companion, but as a “helper.”

When I hear someone is a “Missionary” my first question is – what is the work that they are doing?  Because even before man and woman were commissioned to spread the gospel they were commissioned to work, to get their hands in the dirt, to labor in care of His creation.  Sure, God loves to see us make disciples, reaching all people to share the Good News of Jesus, but He needs our hands caring for His land too.  The story of creation from the beginning makes me wonder if God doesn’t delight in seeing us work just as much as He sees us turning hearts toward Jesus.

Let’s face it, we can’t all be called, at all times, to “go and make” because we are also needed to “stay and work.”  As a Christian, the title “Missionary” has, for me, some baggage attached to it.  It often seems like an esteemed and romanticized role.  There’s a bit of expectancy to be “called out” to head to faraway lands.  And if all you hear is crickets when slots are opening up for the next big church missions trip, it’s tempting to feel like God isn’t using you.

Believers, I hope for those of you in the “stay and work” camp, to be encouraged.  He delights in seeing the work of your hands, your commitment to the job right in front of you right now.

Maybe there is someone in your path that needs to see the strong work ethic behind your painstaking attention to detail on spreadsheets before they can begin to trust the Christian in your character.  Perhaps there’s someone in a cubicle nearby that needs to hear your testimony, but delivered in those smaller, bit by bit pieces as they cross your path in the break room.  Could it be that a tearful girl behind the dressing room door, will be uplifted by the sound of you humming worship as you sort hangers and fold denim nearby? Or maybe there’s someone who will catch a glimpse of your humility and want it for themselves because they see you satisfied after a job-well-done sweeping the floor.

My prayer for you, is that you have hope to be a Missionary, no matter whether you “go and make” or “stay and work” today.  And if that Hope is hard right now, may you sense that the One that made you, delights in you.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

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