Don’t Labor in Vain Day

Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain (Ps. 127:1, HCSB).

Most of us have worked hard to get where we are today. If you’re like my wife and me, you periodically reflect back over your years of laboring. In our case, we can hardly believe it’s been 43 years. I was in my second year of seminary in Scotland.

We had just enough savings between us to squeak through the year. By the time we got back to the States, I had decided not to pursue ministry as a profession but was unclear about what I would do as an alternative. We borrowed money from my mother for the first month’s rent and security deposit on an apartment. No furniture, no job, no prospects, and practically no money — our future was uncertain, but that didn’t seem to matter.

We sat on the floor of the apartment the day we took possession, looked around, and couldn’t have been happier. We were fueled by love, hope, and faith. We knew we’d be fine.

I wonder, if we were faced with the same circumstances today, would we be as confident and hopeful? What might we be thinking, feeling, and saying to each other? Maybe I’d be ashamed that I’d put us in such a position. Perhaps I’d be fearful about how to navigate out of that rut at the age of 67. We wouldn’t want to impose on our children for help. Would the tenderness and partnership between us still be there — enough to see us through? Or would we turn on each other, cast blame, and make matters worse? I’d like to think that enough love, hope, and faith are still there so that we’d be able to face those circumstances together and find our way through it with the Lord.

Thankfully, that’s not our situation. However, this forces some questions: Who has been building the “house” of our lives over the years? Were we? Was the Lord? Did we build it and invite Him in, or did He build it and invite us in? These are tough questions. It’s easy to rationalize that we were trusting Him for direction and outcomes — diligently doing our part to bang the nails with the hammer He gave us. The honest answer for me (my wife was and is better at this) is that there were times, even long stretches, where I “hammered” first and consulted later. There were other times, usually when I hit rough patches, that I asked my Builder-Foreman for assistance. He was always quick to respond, performing for or with me what I couldn’t accomplish on my own.

I suspect that, if you were to take a spiritual photo of the “house” of your life, it would be apparent who was building what at various points in the construction process. The better, more finished looking parts were the Lord’s craftsmanship.

The obvious do-it-yourself parts were your handiwork. Is it perfect? No. Could it have been better? Of course. If we all could retrace our steps and do it over again, knowing what we now know about His faithfulness and effectiveness, would we give Him more control over the building? You bet we would … hindsight. But here’s the thing — the house of our lives is still being built. What about the sagging ceiling in our marriages? The leaking basement in some of our family relationships? The cracked wall in certain friendships? The weakening support beams of health and finances? The broken seals in the windows of our earlier hopes and dreams? None of those are beyond repair or remodeling.

Labor Day commemorates the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. We take a day off from our labors to give tribute to those who have labored before us. I’d like to propose a new holiday. We can celebrate it on the same first Monday in September. We’ll call it “Don’t Labor in Vain Day.” This is when we bring in the Inspector, take that spiritual photo, get the report, and call in the Contractor of Contractors to come in and take care of business. There’s no telling what He’ll be able to do that day. He works wonders.

You may be in a season of life where what you’re facing has required you to recalibrate your game plan, make adjustments, change your expectations, and realign your priorities. Whatever your circumstances, He who numbers every hair of your head is able to do exceedingly more with the rest of your life than what you’ve been able to do under your own labor up to this point. That’s not an idle pipe dream. It’s a promise – His promise. Let’s remember that on this Don’t Labor in Vain Day.

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This article is courtesy of Mature Living.

Steve Silver is a retired business executive, the author of New Man Journey (newmanjourney.com) and the founder of Men’s Golf Fellowship.

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