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Green Pastures and Still Waters

Remember those carefree days as a kid when your only work was play?  I do.  I remember sitting next to a lilac bush and throwing maple tree “helicopters” up in the air just to watch them land.  I remember building stick forts for my little green army men.  I remember riding my bike up and down the drive way, and building ramps, and wiping out.  I remember sand box farms, coloring with Crayola crayons, playing Cowboys and Indians and swinging on the swing-set.  Here’s something I’ve never said publicly before, I even learned to crochet and did cross-stitch.  Please don’t give me grief over that.  I also played baseball and shot birds with my Daisy B-B Gun.  If we couldn’t find a game to play, my brothers and I would make something up; that didn’t always end well—no illustrations needed.  We moved to a farm when I was a young teen and the work began.  Baling hay, caring for cattle, hoeing beans and picking rocks were the new paradigm of summer.  Of course I started to want “things,” and things required money.  I learned early that money does not, in fact, grow on trees, and that there is only one honest way to get money—work.  I’ve been working ever since.  I worked my way through college (and graduated debt-free).  I thank the Lord that I have been steadily employed almost my whole adult life.  I know some of you think I only work one day a week but, seriously?  I do like work though I confess that some days, work is really work.  Actually, I have whole weeks that are…work.  Every once in a while I read some knuckle-head who suggests that we should find a work we love so much that “it gets us out of bed in the morning.”  That’s not biblical.  What is biblical is that we should work.  That work will be work.  That it is our God-assigned task to be creative and thankful in our work.  Nowhere are we commanded to always enjoy our work or find it “life-giving.”  So, if you are stuck in a job—give thanks.  If you can pay your bills—give thanks.  If you have the opportunity to join God in His work in this world through your vocation—give thanks.  Work can be work but it is our way of joining God to bless others in a troubled world.  Work.

For some reason we gravitate to the recognition of greatness.  The greatest athletes, the greatest destinations, the greatest businesses, the greatest movies etc.  I’m not exactly sure what is behind that tendency but I see it in the Bible too.  For example, Paul extolled the virtues of faith, hope and love, but he said, “The greatest of these is love.”  When Jesus was questioned about the greatest commandment, He responded “To love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love seems to top the charts!  But have you found love that great?  In your experience does love rank among the greatest?  Is that idealistic or real?  The church should be the greenhouse for genuine love.  It should be the display to the world of what love looks like.  In the prayer of Jesus (John 17), He actually said that the world would believe that the Father sent the Son because of the loving unity found within the people of God.  Historically, I’m not convinced we’ve done a great job representing the Triune virtue.  Some people have given up on love.  No matter how difficult it becomes in this life, love is the one thing we should not give up on!  It is the glue that holds things together.  It is the sap in the life of the Vine.  It is the greatest!  Therefore, let us receive God’s love and love Him and others…becoming loving people to the glory of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.  May our love for God and mankind both increase and abound.