It’s Monday, and it’s the Monday of a very big week for me. Thursday is the first day of school and I’m returning to the classroom after a 3-year hiatus.
I don’t feel ready for that. I have 58 things left to accomplish before I can face the students and feel like I know what I am doing. And even then…
I also spent the last two months in a professional transition that meant training my replacement while at the height of the most demanding season. It was grueling.
To get through, I brace myself and start my day by asking myself, “Ok. What do I need to do today?” (Make the list. I am my mother’s daughter with the Lists.That would be Lists, with a Capital L.)
I set about solving (and making) problems. If I’m up early enough (which isn’t often) I get a few minutes to fortify myself before launching into 16 hours of physical, mental, emotional, and relational tasks.These are important, but in doing them, I’ve found I can still miss the work the Lord has for me to do today.
The work of today is given to me by the Lord, and it is always a response to His love.
In the work the Lord has for us, we encounter His presence.
We work and live and relate from a place of Love, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and we are blessed.
When we do this work, we always have everything we need; we don’t fear scarcity.
When we do this work, we recognize our limits and live within them, trusting that grace covers all the demands we don’t meet. When we accomplish this work, we feel fulfilled instead of empty.Sometimes, I mistake the work of today for trying to solve tomorrow’s problems.
I tend to decide what to do about someone or something today based on a future I can’t actually see—things only God knows. I make logistical or relational decisions based on what I understand about a situation (which is always only a partial picture) or what I perceive is going on inside another person (which I’ll never know.)
At my worst, I make decisions for today based on what I “know” will happen because of “last time.”
I rarely remember in time the limits on my experience and “knowledge”. When I lean on my own understanding, I don’t leave enough room for Grace.
And I have no peace.
The key is to situate our known tasks for the day in the greater context of the Lord’s work for us, or adjust our tasks so that we are faithfully working where the Lord would have us.
To be willing to say, “that must be done, but that is not my work for today.”
Or, “this was not on my list for today, but it must be done.”
The key is also to recognize, that with only the promise of daily bread, and with the warning that “tomorrow has enough troubles of its own,” our work is day by day.
Our work is Day. By. Day.As an “apprentice of Jesus,” (A term I’m borrowing from a brilliant friend, artist, minister, and professor I know) my daily work is always threefold: whatever it takes to sustain an awareness of God’s Presence, whatever it takes to be Obedient, and whatever it takes for me to love God and my people well.
When I am aware of the presence of God, I can’t help be aware of His Love. When I live out of obedience, I am responding to that Love with love of my own, trusting Him and His plan for me, and trusting that “my times are in His hands.” And when I work hard at loving Him and my people well, I get to participate with God in my own transformation into the likeness of Jesus and union with Him.
Because nothing changes a person faster than real worship and the difficulty (and joy) of deep relationships.
When put in this context, I’m glad my days come one at a time. Doing these things every day is work enough where I shouldn’t have to reach into Tomorrow.
But it’s also not the extent of my work. Some of today’s tasks will flow out of the unique person God made me to be. There are a few specific tasks that I, Jessica, attentively watch for the opportunity to do. They come out of who I am and who I am in the context of My People.
Responding to the love of God out of my true identity,
I am a champion of the Beautiful.
That which is beautiful uniquely calls us into God’s presence, and I will stop at nothing to find beauty where it is or leave something more beautiful than I found it. I will call our attention to it, cherish it, and carry it wherever I can. And if you’re working with me or waiting on me at all, be advised: I won’t be satisfied or ready until it’s lovely. I call it “living colorfully.” (Some of you might call it making a mess or dawdling, and you might try reminding me that not everything needs a red ribbon, but good luck to you).
I am a tribe-maker.
Pulling the lost, lonely, or isolated into a family is all in a day’s work for me. I am deeply driven to go get anyone meeting that description and bring them Home. To mitigate the sting of loneliness. To get extra hands from where we have them to where they are needed. To bind us together in unity. To distinguish our identity. To name what makes us “Us”, and to help us live out of that.
I am an explorer.
I care much more about questions than answers, and often my work is being faithful to ask them when we’d rather not. My work is to challenge what we know and where we are comfortable—to go new places first. To try new things. To chase Adventure. To set sail first. To read about our destination. To chart our course.
I am present.
My work for the day is bearing witness to the full reality of joy and affliction. To attend to my people with a holy hospitality. To call our attention to the fullness of grace in the moment. To deeply bear the weight of glory. To record the very moment when where we are becomes where we were, and when where we are becomes where we are going.
The rest of my work flows out of the story that’s unfolding in my circumstances and relationships. What I have to do today depends on how I can respond to God’s love in the midst of the madness. I watch for what there is to do, and in doing today’s work, I surely get to be where God is.
What is your work today?