When I was in college I remember often thinking, “I cannot wait to be out in the working world so I can be done with these classes.”
Then I graduated and started working full time and thought, “Okay, wait. This is harder than it seems.”
I struggled finding fulfillment in my work. The very thing that was taking up the majority of my time and energy was something I didn’t particularly enjoy doing. In fact, for the first year of “adulting” I DREADED work. To spare myself, I will not tell you how many Sunday nights I spent crying because I couldn’t bare the thought of enduring another work week (update from that moment in time: I now have a job that is much more enjoyable and love the people I work with, and even still I wrestle with work under great circumstances.)
My days were spent watching the clock tick down, savoring every moment I wasn’t working, all the while dreading what I knew was coming again: another day of work.
“Is this it? THIS is what we spend the rest of our lives doing?” A bit anticlimactic, don’t you think?
I wanted to be out saving the world, working towards a greater purpose, LOVING my job. That’s what we always dream of our adult lives looking like don’t we? We want to do something that we are passionate about. We want a job that gets us excited to wake up in the mornings.
Is any of this story sounding familiar to you?
In my short two years of being an adult, I have wrestled with this work thing, but the Lord has been gracious enough to give me a small glimpse of what the Bible says about it.
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28 (NIV)
The basic timeline goes like this: God created Adam & Eve. God gave the command to work, be fruitful and increase in number and subdue the earth. They failed. Sin entered the world. And now work looks different.
Isn’t it kinda cool to think God gave the command to work BEFORE the fall?! Work was to be a joyous thing that brought worship and glory to God. When sin entered the world, work became frustrating, hard, and often exhausting. What was once meant to be fulfilling, was now very frustrating.
AH HA! So my feelings of little fulfillment in my work were a result of the fall. Okay. But now what?
Then comes the gospel.
Even in the midst of the curse in Genesis 3 (right after the fall), there is promise of hope. We are pointed to the life of Jesus.
From this point on, we are looking to Christ to complete the work, and all the work we do is about him!
In Matthew 28, when Jesus has defeated death and sin through the resurrection, he told his disciples what is known as “The Great Commission”. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
They were to be fruitful in the multiplication of disciples, and fill the earth with God’s people. Does that sound familiar to you at all? Matthew 28 is a fulfillment of Genesis 1:28. When Adam and Eve couldn’t measure up to what God asked of them, when they couldn’t complete the work, Jesus steps in and fulfills it. Wow.
And now what does work look like? It looks like Jesus. Everything we do, no matter what we are doing, is to be done to reflect Christ and spread the gospel.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23
So although the fall has affected work and made it frustrating, we still get to play apart in the redemption story! Now that is pretty amazing and purposeful. As a child of God, everything we do has purpose. If we could get that in our brains as we are sorting paper, making calls, changing diapers, teaching students, giving shots, doing dishes…what a difference it would make.
And I also have to remember that just like Adam and Eve, I won’t measure up; I will fail. But Jesus is the one I look to. He is the one who completes the work.
Where are you today, friend? Are you in a job you love? A job you hate? Are you walking through your days living for the weekend? Are you wishing for a greater fulfillment in your work? Are you a Mom working in the home and feeling weary?
Look no further than the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the most purposeful thing we can give our lives to. We set our hope in Jesus, fix our eyes upon the cross, and we follow HIM. No turning back. We go and tell the good news to the ends of the earth, making disciples who make disciples.
This is the work we do. This is the life we live for. This is our purpose. The way that we do that is merely a tool, and each and every one of our tools will look different. We need them all. How will you use the work and gifts you have been given to advance the Kingdom?
Struggling with you,