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  • Katie Smith

Restful Work

Broken bread. Poured out wine.

If you've ever read the children's book, The Little Red Hen, you know the time involved in bread-making. Without aid, the tasks become laborious. I've made a loaf of bread "myself" (without plucking grain or stopping by a miller of course), but I've never made wine. I imagine the process is equally as strenuous with all that stomping. However beautiful the kernel of wheat or grape vine, the real gift happens after working with the elements to create a fresh provision.

I've always wondered if the Little Red Hen enjoyed her solitary work, or if the writer wanted her words, "I'll do it myself" read with a resentful tone. I think culture has taught me to begrudgingly read the bird's lines in order to teach children to help out with housework. However, this lesson feels as misguided as "working to retire".

Surely every human being works in order to achieve a certain level of peace. Whether peace while resting under a cozy rooftop, peace while resting without responsibility, or peace while resting in a beautifully exotic resort, the goal for everyone in the end remains the same: peace and rest.

Thus, we can stop working to retire if we are retired while working. We all have arduous aspects of our jobs that ignite bitterness or vexation (mine currently resides in the amount of hours I drive up and down boring road as an unpaid Uber driver in a minivan), but these troubles should be viewed in light of the brokenness we have created for ourselves. When we work for a perfect boss, we can find joy in whatever task He places before us.

Psalm 95:11 and Isaiah 26:3 tell us that entering "God's rest" means we are always at peace only if we are always serving Him. In other words, we persist in peaceful rest while constantly working-- a complete contradiction to modern retirement ideals. Serving God does not mean you are paid by a church either. Take the first human being, Adam, who "worked" by naming creatures and cultivating the land. Before sinning, Adam and Eve were never separated from restful peace or hard work because they rested in perfect synchronization with the Spirit of God during a purposeful life. They didn't sit around lazily pampering themselves in the garden, nor did they stress over retiring.

Jesus finished his "work" on the cross and rose from the dead, completing all the "work" needed for us to find perfect peace again. Then, he was mistaken for a gardener, a cultivator of crops, just like Adam. Mary mistook him at first glance after the resurrection, which reaffirms God's original intentions. We all work with purpose if that purpose resides in a perfect person.

When we live in His Spirit as Adam and Eve once did, we live by a Spirit of trusting obedience. Obedience then is not arduous or forced, but eager and desirous. We never stop "working" or "gardening" in an idyllic Eden if we are obedient to use the gifts, talents, and time He has given us to build up His kingdom instead of our own.

So if you are looking to retire, simply start cultivating with whatever you have, and with His great glory in mind. Then, you'll have all the rest you've ever wanted while still "working" with abundant peace. Peace in a chaotic world only comes through a lens different from the one the world hands us. A lens cleaned with blood and then washed white as snow. Imagine all the fun children have pulling weeds or shoveling snow. Only when the world tells us there's something better do we lose this sweet joy in playful work. Don't let the world tell you there's a better tree to eat from, when God has given you a perfect one in your own backyard.

~Restfully Working CC

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