Did you work on Labor Day? Taking time away from work on this holiday that officially ends summer and offers a day to honor loyal workers throughout our nation is anticipated all year long. Labor Day is set aside to recognize the working people of America.
The Bible alludes to work in Ecclesiastes 2:24 “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”
In other words, God is pleased when we do good work and enjoy what we do. If there was one thing the pilgrims and our founding fathers had, in addition to their faith and trust in God, it was the desire to work. Night and day they toiled, and God blessed their efforts.
Labor Day was set aside to honor and congratulate the workers of America. They worked and built what we have today – our America.
What would workers of past centuries think of today’s work ethic in America? It seems strange that what built this country – hard work and real success – is becoming distorted today. The idea that work is not necessary, outdated seems to be prevailing. Many today would like to start at the top and work their way down to all leisure time and no work at all. This is not the answer for America.
What is work? It is God – ordained from the beginning. Adam was told to work in the garden. Moses was busy tending his flocks. David was caring for his father’s sheep. Peter and Andrew were busy casting a net into the sea to catch fish.
Work is that human activity that provides the good and services in our economy. We cannot enjoy the good life which God has blessed us with, individually and as a nation, unless we understand the necessity and joy of work. Money received without productivity is not valued like hard earned money. Work is an opportunity; therefore, as we settle back into the work schedule of our lives – let us give thanks for the work God called us to do.
1 Corinthians 3:13 says this about work, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
Work comes to us in seasons. My work season began at an early age pumping gas and putting up groceries in our country store. The latter was a chore I disliked immensely, and it showed in my job performance. Once, I complained that I had to stock the shelves with ten pound bags of sugar while my older sister, Glenda, sat behind the counter to check out customers. Grumbling beneath my breath, I said, “I wish she would drop a bag of this sugar and it would go everywhere, then Daddy would be mad at her and let me clerk.” When all the groceries were in place, I hopped on my brother’s tricycle and rode through the aisles. The right pedal caught a bag of the sugar I had just put in place, as I rounded the corner of the checkout counter going wide open. The bag burst open, sugar covered the cement floor. Ironically, Daddy was mad at me and so was I. That lesson stuck with me like the sugar did to the floor I had to clean.
Pumping gas was a joyous job I volunteered for every day. I remember waiting patiently for customers to pull up to the gas tanks and say, ‘fill ‘er up.’ My brother, Billy, and I made rolling cans from the empty oil cans that filled the trash bin between the gas pumps. With the clothes hanger inserted, we would roll the dirt filled cans all over the store yard. When customers stopped in front of the gas pumps, I was ‘Johnny on the spot’ rendering service with a smile. Most fills ups cost our customers around $3.00 in that season when prices were low and work was plentiful. My short stature didn’t stop me from being a good worker at the pumps. I even sang for our customers while the gas flowed into their tanks. My Uncle Mack and his sweetheart, my future Aunt Betty Jo, would smile as I’d sing, ‘Here I stand with curls on my shoulder, stand back boys – ‘till I get a little older..” While pumping gas for Wallace Beals, his song request was, “Here I stand upon a stump, come and catch me before I jump.” These silly rhymes became songs with my made up tunes and passion for doing the work I loved.
That season of work in the late fifties and early sixties set the stage for a wonderful life doing the work God called me to do. I am thankful for the health and happiness God gives in this sunset season of my life to keep working and singing His songs. An old hymn puts a divine twist on the work we are called to do here on earth. With joyous hearts we lift our voices in unity with a message to be heeded around the world, “We’ll work ‘till Jesus comes and we’ll be gathered home.”
My morning devotion shares this spin on work, “If I must spend my days at work, let it be work that I love. Make it more than glamor or dazzle, make it more than crazy days of funny people or being worn to a frazzle. Let it be a chance to express all the things I feel inside so that at the end of the day, it never ceases to amaze me that they call it work and they actually pay me. If it is to be, it is up to me.”
“Father, thank You for the privilege of work, but especially thank You for giving us a zest for working when we have found the thing we love to do. Help everyone who is boxed into a job that is drudgery to somehow tune into a new thing that would bring joy and fulfillment to his/her life. Thank you that I have work to do. Whether, I leave the house each morning to pour my energy and effort into the joy You have given me, or stay behind in the home to work at my tasks there, help me to labor as unto Thee and to realize that work will reward me richly and bring me self-control, diligence, strength of will, cheerfulness, and contentment that the idle will never know.”