Many years ago, I quit my job because of significant stressors arising from said job. I felt really guilty, as a lot of training and education went into my attaining this job. I really did not think God wanted me to quit, but I was so depressed and stressed that I hated going to work to a job I once loved, (some parts of which I still loved). I had prayed and prayed and saw no clear answer over the course of several years. Then one day, my “Ananias” called to ask how I was. I burst out crying on the phone, as I had had a particularly difficult and complicated night the evening before. I told my friend I needed a “mental health day.” Wisely, she asked me to explain what I meant by that. I told her how unhappy I was, how much I had prayed about quitting or staying, and how I did not hear a clear answer either way from God. My friend’s sage advice, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I am sure, was “Sometimes you have to take the first step in faith and see where God leads.”
For Christmas last year, my niece gave her parents a gift of discovering their ancestry through DNA testing. My brother and I laughed when he told me this, as our father was a first-generation American, his father coming from Germany and his mother from a German village in Switzerland. Our mother was second-generation American, all her grandparents having emigrated from Germany. Big surprise: the test showed my brother is 99+ percent German. This got me to thinking of my spiritual heritage…
My sister tells the story of meeting a Hollywood actor and producer in a little semi-rural town in PA. A gentleman approached her for assistance and she blurted out, “You’re Mark Harmon!”
“Well, yes I am,” he countered. “And you are…?”
“Me? Oh, I’m nobody!” replied my sister.
So many of the people I pray for have health issues. As a retired physician, I find myself unconsciously analyzing people’s prognoses based on what I know about their health issues. I find myself thinking, “Wow! That cancer is stage 3 or 4. That’s going to take a real miracle from you Lord, for her to be healed.” Or, “He’ll get better. We can treat that now.” I catch myself prioritizing which people to pray for miracles for.
The U S Department of Labor has written in reference to Labor Day, “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, the American worker.”
Ouch! That bothers me. Yes, workers, as opposed to slouchers, have helped build a great nation, but let’s rather pay tribute to God, the Creator of all things, the One to whom all tribute is due. After all, God even invented work. In Genesis 1 and 2 the Bible tells of God’s work of creation, that it was good, and that God rested when He was done. God told His people that they, likewise, should rest from their work, one day out of every seven (Exodus 20:8ff).
I recently had the privilege of listening to a series of lessons on the Israelites: From the Exodus to the Promised Land. The teachings highlighted how God delivered his chosen people from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and then His dealings with them as they wandered in the wilderness another 40 years for their lack of faith. (I remember reading these stories when I was a kid and marveling that these Children of Israel never seemed to learn from their mistakes and how they kept repeating them; and how they complained!) The teacher of the series commented on their ingratitude and posed the thought, “I wonder how that made God feel?” Then he challenged us to consider how WE make God feel in our lives, and how we can be just as ungrateful as the Israelites were in the desert.