Grace Notes

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Work's reward

By Nancy Kennedy

Today I scrubbed my kitchen floor, on my knees with a bucket of sudsy water and a brush, "Cinderella-style."

After that I polished all the stainless steel and rubbed the countertops with stuff that made them gleam. Then I vacuumed all the wayward popcorn from underneath the couch cushions and cleaned both bathrooms.

When I finally sat down with my can of diet ginger ale, it hit me how good it felt to work with my whole body.

The scrubbing motion stretched my tight back and polishing the stainless steel until I could see my reflection made me smile.

It felt purposeful and redemptive. Yeah, I was just cleaning the house, but today it felt like more. It felt good. Working feels good.

The other day someone asked me about my job and I replied, "I have the best job in Citrus County" - in my opinion anyway. I get to do what I love, writing people's stories, and actually get paid for doing it.

My husband also loves working. He retired a few years ago and went into business for himself doing home maintenance repairs, mostly for older people.

He loves troubleshooting and fixing things. He loves the process of taking something apart, changing parts and putting everything back together.

He loves coming home tired and dirty and sore. He loves the bleach and paint splatters on his clothes. He, too, feels that what he does is purposeful and redemptive. He helps make other people's lives better.

Some people think work is a necessary evil, that it's God's curse on sinful humanity, a punishment for going astray, but it's not.

When God put the first man in the garden paradise he created, he instructed the man to cultivate the garden, to subdue the earth, to work it to produce food, to cultivate beauty, to rule and reign over his surroundings.

Work stimulates the mind and body and the soul. Work is a blessing, a gift from God, whether it's for pay or not.

Sometimes my husband and I ponder winning the bazillion-dollar lottery and what we would do. Barry says he'd put down his tools and never pick them up again, but I don't think he would.

After all, how many places can we visit before every hotel and airport and city looks the same? How many fabulous meals can we eat before it gets ho hum? How many pairs of shoes can I buy or wear? At last count, I only have two feet.

I love relaxing at the beach, but to do it every day with no end in sight? No thanks.

Whenever I think about people like Paris Hilton and their lives of indulgent leisure, I actually pity them.

What motivates them to get out of bed in the morning? What can they say they accomplished at the end of the day? Besides, "Idle hands are the devil's tools." That's not scripture, but the idea is biblical. When I'm focused on work, whether it's at my job or at home, I'm less apt to get myself into trouble.

My pastor often talks about work and the holiness of it. He tells us that our work is our vocation and our mission, that wherever it is God has placed us, we are there to be his agents of restoration and redemption and that God's kingdom is expanded and his name is made known by the work we do.

Electricians make it possible for people to enjoy light and cool air and refrigeration. Line cooks in a restaurant and grocery store clerks help feed hungry bellies.

School janitors maintain environments conducive to learning. People who run dry cleaning machines, those who print flyers and wedding invitations, people who pick up trash or build roads or sell plumbing supplies or paint - truly, no job is too small or insignificant.

Work is not evil, although some jobs may be. That's because humans are evil and often devise evil ways of making money.

But work done in the name and for the glory of God is holy and wholly life affirming and renewing. It's soul satisfying and community building and what we were created for.

Plus, there's nothing quite like the satisfying sleep after a hard day's work. That, too, is God's reward.