When God envisioned the world, He went to work. God’s vision soon became a reality through his work. Heaven and earth, water and land, plants and living beings all came about. And finally, God’s finest work – human beings were brought forth.
Every Christian that has been entrusted with a vision must likewise work to turn it into reality. We must bring forth what the Holy Spirit put into our heart through work. To do our finest work, we will need to get down on our knees and get our hands soiled.
In case we have any mistaken idea that God’s divine activity does not correspond to the mundane work that we do, we should note that in describing God at work, Genesis uses the Hebrew word mlkh – the word for ordinary human work!
In this season of a worldwide pandemic, work has become more difficult. For some of us, the disruption to our work has been severe and we are barely able to work. For others of us, work has become increasingly stressful. We are exhausted by the uncertainty. We cannot be sure that our work will bear the fruits we seek. We doubt that our work has meaning beyond paying our bills.
This was certainly my experience earlier this year when the lockdown first happened. I became increasingly frustrated as the days turned to weeks and weeks to months. Alternating between trying to keep a work schedule and abandoning all work, I found myself moving between faith and hope, and guilt and hopelessness.
The problem was my focus was on my work. I was anxious about its effectiveness or rather lack of effectiveness. I was frustrated that the momentum built through hard work was increasingly coming to a halt.
A short pause in the loop helped me to return to the beginning where God planted a garden and called Adam to tend it. The garden was the result of God’s work. Adam’s work was a continuation of the work that began with God. Through Adam’s work, God’s vision for the world would be completed.
How can we connect our work to God’s work during this unprecedented time?
We need to return to the beginning and see God as the beginning of all meaningful work. Not only is he the beginning, he is the foundation of all our work.
God is the backbone of our work.
The backbone as we know is the part of something that provides the greatest strength and support to it. It is the most important or substantial part of something. And that is who God is to our work.
Unfortunately, for many Christians, instead of connecting to God as the backbone, we treat him as a wishbone.
The “wishbone” or furcula is the V-shaped bone between the neck and breast of a cooked bird such as a turkey, duck or chicken. Traditionally it is removed from the bird and pulled apart by two people. It is believed that the longer piece brings good luck and the one who gets the longer piece could make a secret wish that would come true. This whimsical belief came about around 700 B.C. when the Etruscans in ancient Italy believed that birds were oracles and could tell the future. They would leave the furcula in the sun to dry out, preserving it in hopes of gaining its divine powers. Villagers would then pick up the furcula and gently stroke it while making a wish.
Stroking a wishbone will not turn vision into reality!
Many Christians have failed in their work because they have treated God as a wishbone instead of a backbone.
When we work, we are expressing our godlike nature. God who calls us to work is interested in our work. The Holy Spirit who resides in us is not just our helper in what are commonly accepted as spiritual activities such as prayer or worship, He is also our helper when we work. The Spirit of God endows and empowers us to do our work.
We read in the Old Testament that the Spirit of God inspires craftsmen and artists who designed and adorned the Tabernacle (see Ex. 35:30-35). Judges and kings in Israel did their work under the anointing of the Spirit of God (see 1 Chron. 28:11-12;Judg. 3:10;1 Sam. 16:13, 23:2; Prov. 16:10).
The significance and meaning of our work lie in our cooperation with the Holy Spirit in anticipation that our work contributes to the betterment and transformation of our community and world. Just like the garden that Adam tended to advance God’s vision of the world, our work done in cooperation with the Holy Spirit turns God’s vision for our life into reality.
What is the vision of God for you in this peculiar season of life?
After the initial confusion, a “light bulb moment” happened for me, as I saw with surprising clarity the vision for this season. The clarity of vision allows for the resetting of priorities, redistribution of resources and reigniting of faith and hope.
The current pandemic lockdown certainly threatens to bring our work to naught. It could snuff out our creativity, douse our passion, and leave us visionless. But by embracing God as our backbone, and leaning into the Holy Spirit, we can believe that even in trying times, God turns desert into pools of water and parched grounds into flowing springs.