My wish for you this Labor Day is for far more than a happy day

Happy Labor Day doesn’t make sense to me. We aren’t blowing out candles or passing out gifts. No special religious service is connected to this holiday in the U.S. But if we are living on purpose, surely Labor Day can mean more than slapping a burger on the grill and popping open a soda. Labor is God-given, and when we labor with Him, we find ourselves, as we bless the world.

So I wish for you heart-driven work.

Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.

Col 3:23-24 MSG

That you will know your purpose.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Genesis 2:15 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

That you will find rest at day’s end.

Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 ESV

That you follow God’s work/rest cycle.

Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:9-11 ESV

That you know you are not alone.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalm 127:1 ESV

That no matter the apparent outcome, you know your efforts are not in vain.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

That you know when and where to lay your burdens down.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 ESV

That you work for what is eternal.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

What does this holiday mean to you?

The Power of Yes

Sometimes it feels like life is a swirling downward eddy. We don’t have options. Or we can have so many choices that confusion dulls our minds. We answer the call of highest demand, attack a few of the items on the top of our to-do list, if we’re lucky, and address the squeaky wheel in our lives. When we finally hit the pillow, we let out a long sigh, relieved the day is over. Then, if you’re anything like me, instead of drifting off to refreshing sleep, a scene from the day slips in. I give it a mental do-over, assuring myself it will help me do better next time.

Really?

The next day starts with sleep deprivation, and a growing list of Should and Ought.

It is usually a Bible passage, a sermon or a dream that brings me up short and asks, “What am I really following?” I say I’m following Jesus, but what about the days I churn through, ruminating over someone’s displeasure with me, or my sense of not measuring up, letting someone down, or simply not having the energy or time to do what I’d like for others.

Am I really following Jesus then, or worshipping at some other altar?

Would the photo show a selfie?

Would it be any better if the picture on the altar where I worship is a spouse, a teacher, a church, a neighbor, a child? Even a mission?

This line of thought started when I took a few minutes out for a little nap and feel sound asleep, which is unusual in the middle of the day. At the end of the dream, I drowned.

Yes. The dream didn’t stop when I was almost dead.

I couldn’t breathe, and I drowned.

Then I woke up, gasping for air.

Once the oxygen returned to my body, I felt strangely lighter. As if I’d left the load behind in the water.

Starting fresh.

Sounds a little like baptism, doesn’t it?

A song is always playing in the background of my life. This time Peter’s words played in my mind, “Lord to whom can we go?”

A large crowd had followed Jesus, excited by healings and miracles and words that made them happier. They’d eaten their full on broken bread from his hand. Then Jesus said some hard things. His eyes must have glistened in sadness as he watched most of them grumble and turn away, back to their own household gods.

Then he looked to his little hand-picked group of unlikely Messiah men, and forced the issue with them. “Are my words too hard for you, too? Am I too much for you?”

Peter, The Mouth, blurts out what his heart is pounding.  “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

He didn’t have all the answers. But at that moment, Peter chose to follow what he did know, not stumble on what he didn’t know.

Peter said yes to Jesus, to his love and power, and everything changed.

Hanging on to Jesus is really what free living is all about. We let go of all the good-that-replaces-the-best we carry in our hands, or on our backs.

We don’t need more theory, theology or understanding. Or more rules or laws.

We find a lighter life when we reach for what little we know of Jesus. We simply follow, even when we have no clue where he is going, or what he is doing.

He will reveal himself, his love filling every part of our hearts that we open to him with a “Yes.”

And everything changes, even if we don’t sense it right then. An eternal shift.

The power of Yes.

Why do we delay? Why are we fearful?
You see, this day has been given to us not for us to theorize and analyze but as a great gift given out of love so that we may once again, or for the very first time today, believe, confess, and truly receive. . . .
Don’t you see it? Today is our day to say yes to God – yes to His love, yes to His mercy, yes to His forgiveness, yes to His grace. 
  

Quote from a sermon preached by the Rev. Charleston D. Wilson The Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, Florida, 16 August 2015