She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16 (ESV
We were always meant to work. That is why the desire is in each of us. We all want to create and tend, to build and multiply all that we have been given. Even the lazy among us has a desire for the results of work. There is just a disconnect in what they desire and their ability to get there. I’ve heard it said, “you can’t get there without going.” I don’t know who originally said it but it rings with truth.
Work is a natural part of life. So why do so many of us feel guilt or a constant striving for the next step up? Guilt or is it pride? Who exactly do we think we aren’t doing enough for, making enough money for? These questions beg to be taken back to Eden.
God made us first for fellowship. He put man and woman in the garden to have dominion over all of it. The work was not meant to have dominion over God’s beloved sons and daughters. The garden was enough. Until it wasn’t.
Until Eve listened to a spiritual enemy that was just as real as the God who created her. Eve was first led to believe she misunderstood God but when Eve repeated exactly what God had said a new tactic had to be put in place. Satan in the guise of a serpent tells her God is lying. That she will not die but rather she will be more alive, more God-like, which is funny because Adam and Eve were already created in God’s image. (Paraphrase mine, Genesis 3)
How many times have we fallen for that same lie? Words of doubt convincing us we lack the very thing we already possess. A bite of an apple would open her eyes and give her wisdom. But Eve already knew God. Eve already had knowledge of the Holy. They had probably strolled in the garden together on countless evenings talking as the day cooled.
Eve failed. Jesus was tempted in the same way as Eve by almost the exact same things. Instead of fruit Satan offered bread. Just like Eve was assured that she wouldn’t die so was Jesus assured:
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Matthew 4:6
And lastly Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world as if this was not already all His Fathers’ world. Jesus gives us back the fellowship we were always meant to have with God. Through Christ we are free once more. We work in a world still cursed with thorns and thistles.
Earth is not heaven. Christians still have difficulties. Evil is still widespread. God doesn’t take us out but he does give us grace and comfort as we go through hard things. But within each of us who claims Christ the Spirit dwells, so maybe there are spaces that are holy, experiences that are holy right here on earth because He is living though us.
For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
We are all creative beings in need of being reminded that work is not a curse. It was never meant to be experienced at one extreme being dread and the other extreme being an idol that represents our identity. We all consider and buy into something that leaves us standing there with a handful of our own fruit or the lack of it.
The Proverbs 31 woman can buy the field because she has considered her works so far. She has been faithful to God. And she has seen God’s faithfulness in return season after season. Her hands hold the dirt God gave her to work. She knows where she came from, she remembers she is dust.
Still tired with berry stained fingernails from the work of her last endeavor. One season of work invites the next and of course she wants to accept the invitation, because she is alive with eyes open. Superficial things are discarded in favor of the profound.
Maybe practical work is a training ground, a bringing of the kingdom of heaven down into flesh and blood. A mingling of my soul with the world around me, but at the same time there is God protecting me, hemming me in as the Psalmist writes. Maybe work is, or can be a moving meditation. A prayer. A worship. Maybe how we occupy ourselves here on earth is eternally important.
That could be why, when we are faced with feeling purposeless it is so internally devastating. In stronger moments we lift up all the things we could do and in weaker moments we decide we will do nothing. Either way we miss the point. It’s not about what we can do or want to do, or not do.
At this point we have lost our identity in Christ. The forgetting of being fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves us enough to have plans for us, a God who loves us enough to send His Son so we can have a personal, up close, intimate relationship with the Creator. We are so beloved by God and hated by Satan yet we close our senses up to the reality of this. We sink inward and become poor and small, groveling for enough to hardly stay alive.
But then there is God walking in the cool of the evening as He did in Eden. He still calls. Our name is written in the palm of His hand. It’s that small quiet voice in the breeze passing right by and if you miss it tonight it will be there again tomorrow but it might be harder to hear, harder to grasp and feel as time goes by.
It could be God walking on the cold still thawing ground as I look for daffodils in vain. The lilacs and the hydrangeas are still just sticks stunted and asleep. Frost on twigs the first day of March. I remember I am already God’s child, and this morning, this life, is already mine I can just walk right into it.