We are laborers together with God | Faith | frontiersman.com – Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman


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As I sit down to write this article, other tasks beckon urgently. The garden is overflowing and needs to be harvested, food stored or distributed. Weeds have run amok in the raspberries and must be dealt with firmly. Lawns need mowing. Outdoor painting and fixing need to be done while temperatures are still warm. The beehives need to be insulated against the coming winter. The chickens need to be prepared for winter, too—flocks thinned out, coops mucked, equipment repaired. School starting brings the need for shopping, scheduling, sports. Fall time is busy.

And that’s good. We planted this garden so we could harvest. I fertilized in order to have a thick lawn. Animal care is part and parcel of owning and enjoying them. Extracting and bottling our honey is always sweet. My children are ready for the routine of school and enjoy the stimulation of new classes and faces and subjects. The promise of cold temperatures gives me a needed push to finish up outdoor tasks.

I like to work—outside in the wind, inside over the sink, pushing the mower, hauling hay bales, or even writing newspaper columns. I like seeing the newly painted eaves or lined up bottles of jam. It’s satisfying. I love that bump of accomplishment.

We’ve tried hard to share that ethic with our children as well. Family epigrams often focus on labor: “No worky, no eaty,” “Work first, play later,” and my personal favorite: “Work will win when wishy washy wishing won’t.” As parents, we ponder: what must they know to be successful? How to balance a budget, clean a toilet, solve a physics problem, and so much more. They have to work. We all do.

Come to find out, it’s good for you, too. W. Furmanek, a Polish researcher, noted that work, as a basic part of everyday life, gives people a sense of “inherent dignity.” Another researcher, M. Gorney, comments that through work, people satisfy their most basic needs—food, shelter, security. Interestingly, he points out, work can satisfy our most complex needs as well—belonging, learning, and self-fulfillment. Work provides the way to a happy life.

What about when we don’t work? Rainer Winkelmann, writing for the IZA World of Labor comments that “There is overwhelming evidence that unemployment takes a heavy toll on life satisfaction.” Even with economic benefits to stay unemployed, not working isn’t the best for us. Stephen Simpson, an economics writer noted that prolonged unemployment leads to a degradation of skills, can harm mental health, and even results in higher crime rates.

That said, many outside the paid employment loop are the hardest workers of all: stay-at-home moms, for example, or unpaid (often family) caregivers. Volunteers of every stripe selflessly enrich our lives as well, from organizing my kid’s soccer games to building orphanages worldwide. Remarkably, over 80% of charitable nonprofits rely on volunteers, according to research by the Urban Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service (2004, 2009). Work is a needed blessing to giver and receiver.

It’s work that makes things happen, with or without money. Work takes your dreams and turns them into reality. Work brightens dingy surroundings or helps children thrive. When I work at repentance, through Christ’s marvelous gift, I can be cleansed. I can grow. Work is needed in this world, and we need to work—a neat arrangement.

But work isn’t just for this world. God has a work as well. As He tells Moses, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1: 39) You are His work. So am I. We take work—no surprises there. But this is worth noting: we are His glory, too. He is completely invested in us. God is the ultimate Family Man.

The scriptures are records of the works of God with us: From Adam through Moses to Peter, Father in Heaven works with those who choose to listen to Him. Miracles like the fire from heaven in 1 Kings (18: 22-40), the protection of Noah’s family in the ark, (Gen. 6-9), and the tender instruction of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) are just a few examples of how He works for and with us. His works are visible with the rising sun, and He strengthens us in our darkest difficulties. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccl. 3: 11 NIV)

Because He loves us so much, He has given us work, and messages about it, too: “Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” (Psalms 128:2 KJV), “The labourer is worthy of his reward.” (1 Tim. 5: 18 KJV) and “Be not weary in well doing.” (2 Thessalonians 3: 13 KJV). The result is a beautiful vision for our lives, taught in Isaiah 32: 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

Time to roll up our sleeves.

Kristin Fry is married to a retired physics teacher. She loves DIY projects, canoeing, and curling up with a good book. She especially loves being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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