Philippians 1:21-24 – For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me, yet I cannot say which I will choose. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.
BACK TO WORK
When I was a child, we had a neighbor who worked in her yard and garden constantly – even on Sundays. I was taught that Sunday was a day of rest, and my parents never worked on that one day of the week. I asked her one time, why she worked on Sunday. Her response was that she enjoyed it and, to her thinking, it wasn’t work. When the garden needed weeding or the plants needed water, it didn’t feel like chores to her. Actually, it was kind of exciting work. She felt like the effort was important, and she preferred to push through the week. There were tomatoes to pick, and work to be done. This was not the time to take a day off!
As an adult, I usually take Fridays off, but today didn’t feel like a good day to do that. Today felt like a day to keep pushing through. This Sunday is Palm Sunday, next week is Holy Week complete with Good Friday, and the following Sunday is Easter. This is the time of year the Church is super busy with upcoming worship services and caring for others. This is when we journey through the cross and into the resurrection together. This is the most exciting time in the life of the Church! We are preparing for a special time of remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for us and that Christ is risen! To my thinking, this far outweighs the task of tomato picking. This is not the time to take a day off!
I need to be reaching out to folks. I have sermons to prepare, emails to send, letters to write, and plans to make. There’s work to be done! In addition to the normal busyness of Holy Week, I’m still trying to navigate how this new church works. Creating and posting blogs is not my forte, and I’m learning new things about doing this better… but it takes time. Creating takes time, writing takes time, and study takes time. I may not be slow in all areas, but writing a blog is not necessarily a quick event each day. Yet, these time-consuming efforts are crucial as we journey together. Today is not the time for a day off!
Here’s the surprise: Even though the demands of the work can be intense, even though there aren’t enough hours in most days, even when I don’t think this is a good time to take a day off, I do find that this is a very nourishing time. It’s not really like “work.” Yes, I have those life-draining moments when I’m just ready for it to all be over. When things get tough, I begin to look forward to retirement. When things get really challenging, spending eternity with Jesus sure does call to my heart. Just like Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, I can’t wait to enjoy the company of the Savior!
However… while my goal and desire is to live with Jesus (eventually), I find that continuing my work here is life-giving. Paul said “living is Christ and dying is gain” and he did not know which he preferred. I get that. Paul knew he wanted nothing more than to depart this life and be with Jesus, but he felt his work continued to be necessary for a time. I get that, too. (For more of Paul’s thoughts, check out Philippians 1:21-30.)
We don’t really have a way of knowing, but I don’t think Paul took that many days off. I don’t think of him as a workaholic, though. I think of him more as passionate, committed, and filled with the desire to share Jesus as much as possible. That’s a pretty good role model to follow, I think. With Holy Week quickly approaching, may I be like Paul – consumed with life-giving work. I’d better get back to my chores.
PRAYER FROM PHILIPPIANS 1
Holy God, thank you for providing examples of hard-working Christians. May I follow those examples and live my life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Amen.