Several months ago, I began a project to perform some long overdue work on the outside of our house. Or did someone else begin the project?
I opt for the latter possibility. I've been needing to do some repairs, paint, trim our large oak tree and clear out other foliage for a while. There just didn't seem to be time to do all of this, however, as our lives and ministry seem to get busier with every passing week and month. As summer ended, the matter weighed heavily on my mind, and I wondered how I would ever get the work done.
I recall a day in early September when I awoke to another day of wondering what to do. I decided to very specifically ask the Lord for His wisdom in the matter (yes, I should have done this much sooner than I did!). The thought occurred to me as I prayed that while I didn't have large blocks of time available for the project, it might be possible to break things up and do just a little bit each day. I decided that I would spend an hour a day for as long as it took to do the work, trusting the Lord to motivate, lead and enable me to little by little take care of the business at hand.
Six weeks into the project, I look back in complete amazement. So much has been done, again, little by little, hour by hour. I've been able to find an hour for the project most days, and occasionally, even two or three. Most of the house is painted, repairs have been done, the oak tree trimmed (you wouldn't believe the small forest I sawed and lopped off that monster!), and much foliage has been cleared. I can't believe it, to be honest with you, and sometimes I think it's all been a pleasant dream from which I'll awaken to the disturbing reality that the work still lies in front of me.
"The work." I write this to you primarily to express the fact that the project really hasn't seemed like work at all. I feel rather like a spectator who has watched someone else do for me what I could not have done myself. Of course, the truth of the matter is that my brain, hands, energy and time have been actively engaged for the last six weeks, and an outside observer watching the project would say, "Glen has done a lot of work on his house and in his yard." This is true, but it hasn't felt like it. I can literally say I've enjoyed every minute of the labors. We've had a beautiful, moderate fall in our area, the work has been a pleasure (and I haven't fallen off a ladder!), no major glitches arose, and most importantly, I have known and I know that, as the Psalmist's exulted, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).
There's an old saying, "Enjoy what you're doing and you'll never work a day in your life." This is both true and not true. We do work when our labors are enjoyable, but as with the "little by little project" of recent days, it often doesn't feel like work. Most importantly, when our work is more literally "the Lord's doing," we feel as if we are viewing our lives from the spectator's vantage point. "Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5). We are spectators in one sense, and active participants in another. The Lord Jesus said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). This is our way as well because the Savior now lives in us, and we are to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).
Oh yes, one more interesting aspect of the last six weeks. I have conducted more services during this time than ever in all our years of ministry. New writing projects have also presented themselves, and I've been able, by God's grace, to maintain the personal contacts we believe to be the heart of all true Christian endeavor. Or more literally, the Lord's doing has led and enabled the doings of these blessed days of little by little wherein I witnessed the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus, as revealed in work that hasn't felt like work.
"I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)