This morning after praying for further inspiration for my sermon, I was drawn to preaching something completely different than what I had prepared. Instead of preaching on the peace Jesus leaves us, I was drawn (back) into how our love for Jesus necessitates a response. I preached about how that response is not a deber (as in something we HAVE to do) rather it is a privilegio (something we get to do and should be joyful about). In simple terms: we get to rather than got to. (Thank you MP). After that the Spirit was off and running with how we shouldn't be fooled into believe that privilegio will be facil. The work we do on behalf of Christ or as a response to how we are moved by Christ's love is hard work, it is work that goes on and on and on.
The analogy I had was drywalling. That had been my job while in Mississippi. I had no mudding experience going in, so all of it was new. The first day we got there, our "boss" assigned us the task of sanding all the walls where the drywall mud was. Okay. So we sanded away, sweltering un the doubly humid heat of our dust masks. We sanded and sanded and sanded. Once we had finished a room or two, our next task was to mud. Lay on the mud, scrape it off to a thin layer. Lay on mud, scrape it off. Also a fairly redundant job. But I was learning and we are making progress. One room done. Two rooms done. Three rooms done! Rock on. Day one finished and we left, tired, but pleased with the work we had done.
Then came day two, alright boss what are we going to do today? You are going to sand these walls and then re-mud them. Seriously? We didn't finish yesterday? Nope, go ahead and sand and re-mud. It needs to be done at least 3 times. Okay. Day two for us was actually the third day of mudding for these walls, so we worked and worked, thinking that we would finish the job and then move on to something different on day three. So, again we sanded, and again we mudded. The end of the day came and our boss wasn't there to check our work, but we figured he'd check in the morning and then take us back to his work site (he had left a team of about 6 of us at one house and he had gone to the other with the other 7 or so folks).
Well, let's just say that was wishful thinking! Day three brought more of the same. Sand and mud. Sand and mud. I will just say that I was not so excited about mudding by day three and beginning to resent the boss by day four. Could we really need to sand and mud again?!?! Fortunately day four brought a reprieve (sort of). While we didn't have to mud again, we did have to sand all of the walls so they could be textured and then sealed and painted. I have yet to be convinced of WHY they had to be sanded again if they were only going to be textured, but whatever.
By now you're probably thinking, "Debbie, you just wanted to whine a little, this has nothing to do with the Christian life." Hopefully I will prove you wrong. *Or the Spirit will anyway since I did not think of this ingenius connection on my own. =) The connection is that often we agree to do God's bidding, to live out the message and we go with gusto and excitement the first day. "Sure God, I can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, and offer compassion to all!" We finish the day, and God says, "Good work." Expecting a new and exciting task the next day, we are mildly discouraged when God sets us to the same task. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, and offer compassion to all. Okay fine. I'll go. In your name. We finish another day of work, having done a good job and again await the praise of our boss. Yes, my daughter/son you did a wonderful job. (Sweet!) Now, go do it again to make sure it is perfect. (Not so sweet!) So we go, and we do more of the same. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, and offer compassion to all. And yet maybe this day we are not as excited, thinking we had done a good job, we think these tasks should be finished. We worked hard, why aren't we done with this chore? The boss offers no real explanation, only that it needs to be more perfect. We clean up again, preparing for the larger tasks to be done, circling and fixing errors, trying to get it just right. And alas, even when we finish with one house, there is another to be finished--this time more errors were made early on, more mistakes, more clean up, more mudding, more sanding, more of the same.
You see the Christian life really is like drywalling. Each step is dependent upon the precision with which the previous was completed. Many steps need to be done and redone, and those that were done improperly the first time around must be redone even more. The job we do affects the work future workers will be able to do. We cannot afford to be sloppy or lazy, others are depending on us to get the job done and get it done right. And, as my work team boss says, "We pay for others' sins." (*Note, at my theological core I do not believe this statement--Christ pays for other's sins, not us--but there does seem to be some level of truth to it in thinking of the mission set before us--if we fail to do our job, others will pay the consequence, just as we have had to pay the consequence, we have had to work harder because others were sloppy in their work.)