Christmas time is so wonderful, so full of meaning and beauty. It's often filled with family, and as a wife and mama, that means a lot of time spent cooking and cleaning in the kitchen too! Christmas is a time of giving, and serving one another.
Recently, as I was helping John with a staff Christmas lunch, I found myself thinking about doing, and how I, and we, desire 'credit' with the ones we care about for the things we do. Credit (by the Cambridge dictionary) is defined as "praise, approval, or honor".
We want to be seen. We want to work for good and be appreciated for our contribution. I don't believe this is a bad thing, unless we start to care more about what man thinks than what our God thinks and become bitter and judgmental.
Oftentimes, the people we so want to please just don't realize the importance of acknowledging one another and sincerely verbally appreciating the work that we all do. Perhaps they're busy, or working towards their own approval.
What do we do when we aren't acknowledged for a job well done? What do we do when we feel unnoticed and unseen?
We come back to the basics and consider who it really is we're working for, and whose approval we ultimately seek.
While working in the kitchen, memories of preparing dishes and bringing them to add to our family meals at my in-laws' house came to mind, and cleaning mountains of dishes after the meal that went by so fast! I pondered on why I did that work, and wondered about my motivation. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to help Pat, my mother in law, who'd worked so hard to prepare the meal, as well as her home, for our big gathering of family. It was the right thing to do, and now that she's gone, I'm especially glad that I chose to serve and help her in that small way. I know Pat appreciated it, but things have changed in the last dozen years since she moved to heaven; the huge family meals don't take place around her table anymore, her blue and white dishes have all been given away, and the relationships that were strengthened by time spent at her home are a bit more distant.
Things change. And all of our work - all of our doing for our families, for those we work for, and our volunteering - can seem to be forgotten.
Does anyone see? Does anyone remember?
While pondering all of this and crumbling oatmeal topping onto the biggest pan of cranberry-apple casserole I've ever made, Holy Spirit whispered a beautiful truth that set me onto a path of new thinking.
He said so simply, "Why don't you work unto Me and care about what I think instead? I'm the One who keeps your every tear in a bottle."
His reminder of Psalm 56:8 was letting me know that He is with me, that He sees it all, remembers everything, and He is the One whose opinion and pleasure matters.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
(Psalm 56:8, NLT)
Our work, when done unto the Lord, is never wasted. He always sees. He has a record book of all of our deeds, so He never forgets.
If you are like me, and in all of your doing this Christmas season - and beyond - you feel at times to go unnoticed and wondering if your work really matters, I'm here to tell you that it does, that you do. You matter. And the work of your hands holds great significance, no matter how large or small. If your heart is for the Lord and you live in Him, then He is keeping record and He is pleased. And we will be rewarded one day for our labors unseen. Hold fast and keep the course. Set your eyes on the prize, knowing our King is returning very soon!
In Revelation, John writes a vision of things to come. He testifies that one day we will see the Lord face to face and He will live among us - His people! What we've done with our lives will be a gift we can present to Him alone. We want Him to be pleased! So our heart must stay tender toward others, whether they see us and notice our work or not, because all of our work is done unto God our King! Keeping our eyes on Him and what's to come will help us finish our race well.
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His eyes only.
(Revelation 21:2, The Voice)
No one or nothing will labor under any curse any longer. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will sit prominently in the city. God's servants will continually serve and worship Him. They will be able to look upon His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. Darkness will never again fall on this city. They will not require the light of a lamp or of the sun because the Lord God will be their illumination. By His light, they will reign throughout the ages.
The Anointed One: See, I am coming soon, and I will bring My reward with Me. I will pay back every person according to the deeds he has done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First One and the Last One, the beginning and the end.
Father, I sense You looking at me, fully aware of me. You know who I am and how I have wanted to please and be appreciated.
Lord, would You help me, when I work or do anything to help, keep my eyes on You? Would you help me work to please You? Would you help me delight You and receive pleasure and delight from You?
I'm sorry for wanting man's credit and approval and delight more than I've wanted it from You. I'm sorry for seeking credit from a world that will one day be rolled up like a scroll and pass away.
You and Your kingdom last forever and what You think matters.
Thank You for looking at me. Thank You for seeing and remembering all that I do.
Teach me to think differently: eternally, and heavenly-kingdom-minded.
Help me be more aware of the connection we share so I can experience more of Your delight in me and the things I do for You.
Help me appreciate the people around me. Holy Spirit, remind me to vocalize my appreciation and thanks.
I love You, Lord, and pray in Jesus' name,