Sometimes you work hard, and no one sees you. And it's real work, too. Your hands hurt. Your back bent and throbbing. You promised yourself. You will finish. And you promised that voice in your head the same.
Sometimes you work hard, and it seems like the work won't matter. Your mind hurts. And for what? To finish? Something greater?
But, really, it's the work. The moment to moment action of doing. And not just anything, but that thing you're wired to do. Perhaps it's your occupation, meaning, you get paid for it. Or maybe it's not. It's still your vocatio, what you were made to do, that thing that echoes in those eternal canyons within your heart. Pay or no pay, it doesn't matter. You'd still do the work.
Why? Because when you do, you feel alive.
The teeming of life. Abundance. It's not some abstract thing. It's your experience, when you do the work.
Sizzling With Glory
Theologians regard this abundance as Joy itself. God, reaching through, into our world from his, reminding you and me of heaven, of himself, of his fingerprint that wraps you.
That fingerprint sizzles when you do the work. When you sit down in your favorite chair, in the dark of night, exhausted from the work. In God's dimension, you glow. The next morning you wake, pour some tea, and your friend stops by. "Well, aren't you just all aglow?" Your friend sees each moment of collected solitude, collected activity, collected passion. They see your Joy.
Joy is our aliveness. It does not depend upon a circumstance, or someone's opinion. it relies on the subtle beauty of God pushing through into our dimension, sizzling us with his glory.
C.S. Lewis reminds, when we enter a garden expecting to be overwhelmed, we will, nine times out of ten, feel nothing. But if we ignore the dew and birdsong and colors we will surely be overwhelmed by its freshness and Joy.
I think sometimes our sense of entitlement gets the best of us. We expect glory, but fail to do the work. But, when we struggle in the night, with the work of our soul, with an abandon that does not care whether or not the world will reward our work. When we do the work, then Joy weaves subtle waves of glory. The freshness and Joy Lewis talks about, comes to us when we least expect it.
I am waking this morning, happy to work. Expecting a bent back and frazzled mind. I'm working my way into a quiet Joy.
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.