As a child, I had a wide range of interests. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my response was typically some combination of waitress at pizza hut and professional ice skater. Athletics were a mainstay in my life and I learned to work hard and push my body to its limits. I grew up in the church, and faith was always a part of life. While I knew who Jesus was from an early age, I didn’t fully grasp what was required to have faith until college. Was it works? Was it belief? Was it something outside of myself? Do I owe him as payment for giving me life? And even after I began to grasp the fact that Jesus calls people to himself and my faith in his death on the cross justifies me, I still wondered, does God care about how I spend time outside of church? What about my work?
After graduating college, I worked in corporate America. I worked long hours and managed interesting work, but I consistently experienced a stirring in my heart. I wondered… does God care about my work? Why do I feel like I can’t stop working for fear of disappointing others? Are the good works that Ephesians talks about limited to time spent in church, bible studies or other “spiritual activities”? Or is there something more?
Just in the last two to three years, I’ve begun to grasp that work was given as a gift to man to steward and cultivate. It has inherent worth. We were made in God’s image as image bearers. As we work and create, we express our humanity. Notice that we are not meant to obtain our identity from work – only that can come from God. Understanding the distinction changes everything. If I believe that work is an expression of how I’ve been made in God’s image rather than the whole of my identity, I am freed to partner in what God is doing in the world. I’m also freed to rest as God did trusting in the reality that the sun will actually come up tomorrow. This is how I can laugh at the time to come, because I belong to a loving God who knows my future and uses it for my good and His glory.