I hope you are enjoying Labor Day — a holiday that arose 128 years ago during the Industrial Revolution to celebrate the accomplishments of the American worker.
It’s a great day for brats and burgers, friends and family. If you grew up in the 80’s, it’s also a great excuse to listen to UB40’s albums Labour of Love and Labour of Love II because… you know…well, it’s in the name – even if they did use the awkward British spelling of the word.*
As Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the fall season it’s also a good time to pause and check in with ourselves. Particularly so, as we head into what may be the first “normal” fall season in 3 years since “normal” usually means busy, busy, busy.
As I briefly pondered the peculiarity of naming a holiday, Labor Day, God brought the question above to mind…. Are you laboring in vain?
God actually has quite a bit to say about labor and work in the Bible, but one passage stands out today – Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
Well, that sounds wise but what does it REALLY mean? Check out the Message version of Psalm 127:1-2….
God never ceases to amaze me. Who else can both convict and comfort at the same time? As men, it can be easy for us to labor. (it can also be easy for us to hide but let’s save that for another blog post) But the narrower path of not laboring in vain is much more difficult — in fact, it’s something that Psalm 127 says we CANNOT do without God.
If you’ve spent much time around us here at E6 you know that we know this to be true. Our passion is to help men learn to walk with God deeply, intimately and daily on the masculine journey. And yet, there are still moments – more than I’d like but far fewer than there used to be – where what FEELS true to me is that I can enjoy God’s rest AFTER all my labor is done. It’s in these moments when I am prone to march on ahead like a mindless sheep without listening to my shepherd.
The real antidote to laboring in vain is remaining connected to the Vine. In John 15:5 Jesus said,
Jesus offers countless beautiful, life-giving ways to remain connected to Him; however, there is one thing ALL of them require (yes, every….single….one….of….them) — TIME. I am convinced this is why it’s the one thing that God doled out equally to every person alive today and every person that has ever lived.
American culture puts a huge emphasis on learning how to steward one’s money (seriously, how many cable channels are devoted exclusively to this purpose??), but far less on learning how to steward our time. Sure, there are time-management seminars and books with their catchy tips and techniques, but if we’re being brutally honest, at the end of the day time-management is a heart issue. If there is something we REALLY want, we find time for it. Let me put it this way — I may not find time to run to the grocery store to get white rice if we are out before a weeknight dinner (sweet and sour chicken is perfectly fine without rice!), but if we need Rice Krispies to make rice krispie treats, I’ll likely find the time to go pick some up.
As I head into Fall, I want my heart to be oriented towards things that matter, things that last, the things of the Kingdom. Building time for God into my daily routine has become a life-saver in so many ways but God also intends for us to be in community. For men seeking to follow God, that means being in commmunity with other like-minded men. The wisdom of Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” – is oft-cited when it comes to men’s ministry but it is cited because it reveals a deep truth. The truth that God uses men to sharpen each other.
None of us want to labor in vain, but the difference between those who do and those who don’t is a heart willing to keep moving towards God. It’s not about striving, but more about showing up to see what God will do today. God does the heavy lifting for us.
If you’re looking for ways to move toward God and be in community with other like-minded men this fall, we have a couple great options….
First, on Wednesday evenings, beginning September 14th, we will be meeting over Zoom from 7:00pm – 8:30pm CDT to dive into the book Fathered By God, by John Eldredge. This book does a fantastic job of laying out the stages of a man’s life from a Godly perspective and the video content is outstanding. For more info or to sign up, goto www.e6ministries.org/fbg
Second, if you have been to one of our Boot Camps, or any other Wild At Heart BASIC boot camp, seriously consider attending the Advanced Boot Camp which will be Oct. 20-23 at LifeChange Camp near Clinton, MO. For more info or to sign up, goto www.e6ministries.org/advanced
I hope to see you at one or both this fall!
“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day, as if nothing had yet been done.” – C.S. Lewis
* If you’re interested in a truly iconic list of fitting songs for Labor Day, check out Chris Morgan’s article. He had me as soon as I saw Johnny Paycheck and Loverboy.