Growing up on a farm in southern Indiana, “Labor Day” (a USA holiday celebrating workers on the first Monday of Sept.) wasn’t much of a celebration. Rather, it was, in fact, another day to labor. My dad, bless his heart, worked full-time in a factory about 25 miles away. When he arrived home from work, it always seemed like he had a day’s worth of work scheduled on the farm. So when Labor Day came, it was a great chance to catch up. Labor Day was, then, all about laboring.
For some, that might have seemed, well, laborious. After all, in a concentration camp, “forced labor” is looked upon as cruel and unusual punishment. But as for us, we grew up thinking that work was normal. In fact, one might even go so far as to say it seemed sacred. We were taught that if we worked hard, God would honor our labor with blessings beyond measure. We seldom took vacations. But we didn’t know any better. We never resented work. It was what connected us to the future, not by way of burden or guilt, but because hard work produced a harvest. And after harvest, we could enjoy the fruit.
God seems like a serious worker. In the Genesis creation story, he pushes through when making the universe, finally taking a much-deserved day-off after wrapping up with designing humans. Psalm 19 suggests that he reveals himself by his work. Nehemiah worked so hard on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he wouldn’t even come down to eat lunch (Neh 5:14). In I Corinthians 10:31, Paul states that whatever we do, we should do for his glory.
So what did I do this past weekend (Labor Day weekend)? I replaced the railing on our front porch. The old wooden railing had rotted. Now there’s a new PVC railing in its place. I didn’t mind the work. It reminded me of my Dad and Mom. And I hope that, somehow, it can glorify God.
If you’re like most missionaries, you probably don’t get to grill out with your parents or grandparents on Labor Day. You’re busy proclaiming the Good News to captive hearts among your focus group. So today, wherever you are, would you pause for a moment and give thanks for the constant labor of missionaries the world over? Pray for their safety in this crazy politically-mixed-up world, and yet ask God to keep them bold for His Name’s sake.
And wherever you work today, may God bless your hands and hearts. Thank you for your partnership on behalf of unreached peoples everywhere.
(Thoughts about Labor Day in the USA — or a similar holiday where you grew up or where you serve today?)