September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day

It is Labor Day today. Today is a day when we celebrate the achievements and contributions of workers in the US. I didn't realize that the US has "officially" celebrated workers on the first of September since 1894. This means that today marks the 100th anniversary of the Federal holiday.

I think most people today do not consider Labor Day as anything more significant than a holiday off from work, a day to celebrate with friends and families, or the last day of "summer" vacation. Traditionally, public schools started back after Labor Day, so tomorrow we would normally see children returning to their classrooms for the new school year (here in AZ, school starts in mid August, so Labor Day is the first "school holiday" of the fall semester).

As I think of Labor Day and what the holiday represents, I cannot help but associate resting from work (our labors) with resting in the Lord. In truth, we are called to a "rest" each week -- God designed us specifically for working and resting. And, to encourage us to rest, He created a day for us to rest from our weekly work. We celebrate the Lord's Day on Sunday or the first day of the week (some argue that Saturday is our day of rest; some argue that Monday is the first day of the week). God gave us rest from our worldly labors when He rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2).

Regardless of the day -- each week we are called to rest from our work. For many of us, due to our work schedule, we may not get our day of rest or we may not rest on Saturday or Sunday. For many who work retail (I was one of them), I often worked both weekend days. I took my day of rest in the middle of the week, usually on a Tuesday. Still, my week was ordered to provide one day off for me to rest.

Today, I consider my work schedule and how the Lord has graciously provided four days out of seven for me to rest. I am blessed with this schedule, I am blessed to have so much time off so that I can rest. Even still, even with four days off, I will find myself often struggling to complete all the work or tasks assigned to me. I will push myself to the limit, to the deadline, and still feel the pinch of "time running out." Thinking about my time, how I spend my time, what I do with my time, etc. has become a focus for me. I want to make sure I am making the most of the time the Lord has given to me (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Am I using my time wisely? Am I focused on the Lord's work?

It becomes difficult when your life is bound by a job (for me this is almost full-time teaching) and school (full-time doctoral study is 6 credit hours or two courses per semester). I have little time for a social life. In truth, I have little time to do anything at all. My life, my daily routine is ordered by the tasks generated for my work (teaching) and my doctoral courses. Yesterday while at church, I said to a friend: "My social life consists of teaching at school and studying at school!"

I know that my life right now is focused on these two things, and that in time, I will be graduated and will be working full-time as a professor. I will have the time I am using for study for something else. Perhaps the Lord will bring me opportunities to develop new friendships, to go new places, or to participate in other ministries. For now, though, my life is routine and it is dull. For now, my life is structured to accomplish these two things: learning how to become a professor, and learning how to use my field of study for ministry.

God has graciously provided a wealth of rich opportunities to me. I may not have a social life right now, but I do have friendships with many people, with colleagues all across the country. I also have reconnected with old friends, cousins, and others through the blessing of technology. I am finding myself surrounded by people who were a part of my life many years ago, but now because of the Internet and social media, are coming back to me. It is exciting and wonderful to see how technology has facilitated such friendships. So while we may not physically see each other again, we can share in life from a distance.

This whole field of social media is one of the reasons I believe the Lord has called me to Regent University. I am studying Communication and Regent places a strong emphasis on social media and digital media influence. I believe the Lord intends to use this niche for my focus, and that He has a plan for me to learn and to study how media can be used to build up the church. I love my studies. I love what I am learning, and I can see how the Lord plans to use this in my life.

As I remember my labor, I think of this verse from Revelation 14:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!"

I pray for those who have yet to enter His spiritual rest (through Jesus Christ). I pray for those who know Him and love Him that they may learn to enjoy the blessed earthly rest He gives to them each day, each week, and each month. And, although our eternal rest awaits us, I agree with the apostle John when he says:

Blessed are those who find ALL their rest in Him. Amen. So be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

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