Work: Blessing or Curse?

Image courtesy of Creative Commons. No attribution required.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. –Colossians 3:23

It was 25 years ago. The door had firmly shut on the job of my dreams –teaching – and, after I got over my major, extended funk, I realized this was an opportunity to pursue another one of my life’s interests – writing.

So I got a job at a local newspaper writing feature articles.

I loved it! I wrote human interest stories with a positive slant. Interviewing folks fascinated me, their stories intrigued me. I had the best of both worlds: a job I loved and freedom to set my schedule and choose my topics. But I was too stupid to see it. I wanted a position on staff, not be merely a stringer.

So when the society page editor resigned, I stepped into her position. I didn’t like it as much as writing people stories, but I was caught in a “climb-the-ladder-to-success” scenario. Excuse me, trap is a better word.

Fast forward a year or so, and I found myself in the editor’s office. Editor of the entire newspaper. I hated it. I hated the hours. I hated the politics. I hated everything about it.

In his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg tells the story of a man who was offered the presidency of a university. A Quaker, he called together a half-dozen Quaker friends to help him discern whether this was truly a calling from God.

When asked what he would like about being president, he told them all he wouldn’t like. Finally, when asked a third time, he came face to face with the real reason he even was considering it: “Well, I guess what I’d like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.”

“Parker,” one man asked, “can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?”

We can laugh, but that’s where I was. I liked the words “editor of the newspaper” behind my name, but there was no joy. I was absolutely, totally miserable. The mother of miserable.

Fortunately, I didn’t last long. I went to another newspaper, where I continued to write my devotional column, plus another column about my former town and also covered board meetings.

My sister’s death in 2003 made me realize I still wasn’t fulfilling my God-given calling. I was letting money and prestige dictate my job choices.

When you’re fulfilling God’s purpose for you (see Psalm 138:8), joy will fill you. Your work will be a blessing. But when you’re out of sync with that calling, uneasiness, restlessness, joylessness, and even downright misery will rule the day. Work will be a curse.

It takes courage to step out of the rut we’ve carved for ourselves, take off the masks, and leave the comfort of the known.

But remember, God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and He will guide you, direct you, prepare the way for you, walk with you, go before you, and provide for all you need.

Commit your way to the Lord, and your plans will be established. He will make your steps firm (Proverbs 16:3 and Psalm 37:23–24). In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Why not ask God what He wants you to be doing? His answer may surprise you – and will definitely delight you.

Thank You, God, for giving me satisfying work that uses the talents You gave me, fills me with joy, and fulfills Your purpose for me. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 25:14–30.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Well, the Ram, and Jehovah Jireh

“Hagar in the Wilderness”
Artist: Camille Corot (French, Paris 1796–1875 Paris) | Date: 1835

And then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. – Genesis 21:19 (NIV)

Abraham looked up and . . . saw a ram. – Genesis 22:13

I’ve always felt that Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian maidservant, got a raw deal. Her job was to serve her mistress. This she did. And what did it get her? Not five gold stars for obedience, that’s for sure.

We first meet her in the pages of ancient Scripture when barren Sarah decides the only way she’ll have children is to order her maidservant to sleep with her husband. Any child conceived as a result would then be considered Sarah’s. Legally.

So Hagar sleeps with the big man and conceives. Sarah’s abuse of the pregnant maidservant is so harsh that Hagar runs away. But God meets her in the wilderness, gives her a blessing, and sends her back. Fast forward about 15 years to the weaning celebration of Abraham and Sarah’s miracle baby, Isaac. Sarah spots half-brother Ishmael taunting the little guy and runs to Abraham. “Get rid of that slave woman and her son!” she orders him.

The next morning, Abraham gives Hagar some food and water and sends her off into the wilderness.

When the water was gone, she put Ishmael under a bush and went off a short distance, where she sat sobbing, “I cannot watch him die.”

Once again God meets her in the wilderness. I love how the writer of Genesis describes what happens next: “God heard the boy crying” (Genesis 21:17) and “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (v. 19).

They do not die in the wilderness. Ishmael becomes “a great nation,” as God promised his mother.

Fast forward again, this time to Abraham and Isaac on a mountain on the land of Moriah, where God has sent Abraham on a mission: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, and . . . sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2).

They were almost there when Isaac asks, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

I used to wonder if Abraham’s answer, “God himself will provide the lamb,” was a cop-out. I mean, would he really tell Isaac he was the offering? And I used to think Abraham lied when he told the servants to wait at the bottom of the mountain: “I and the boy will go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5, emphasis mine).

Image by rjmcsorley on Pixabay

Then on the mountain, just after God has stayed his hand from plunging the sacrificial knife into Isaac’s heart, “Abraham looked up and . . . saw a ram,” which he sacrificed in place of Isaac.

Did the ram just happen to be there? Or had it been there all along, making its way up the mountain and getting itself stuck in the thicket just as Abraham looked up?

Did the well that provided life-giving water to Hagar and Ishmael just happen to be there? Some commentators say it was there all along, but Hagar, in her physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual condition, just didn’t see it. Some say it was well hidden.

The answer to these questions is the name that Abraham gives to the mountain: “The-LORD-Will-Provide”(YHWH Yireh or Jehovah Jireh).

The Hebrew word used for “provide” also means “to see.”

God is still Jehovah Jireh today.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of the value of every person on this planet. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son . . .” (John 3:16). Amen.

Read and reflect on Genesis 21:14–21; 22:1–19

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor with your time with God  © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.