Hanging It Up

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

Matthew 11:28
"When all my labors and trials are o'er,
And I am safe on that Heavenly shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will through the ages be glory for me!"

Do you long for the day you can close the toolbox for the last time, turn in the uniforms once and for all, and never have to work again? Are you celebrating your ‘Labor Day’ looking for rest?

The preacher of Ecclesiastes talked of the futility of life when it comes to work, crying “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!” “All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.” and, “Of making making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 6:7, 12:12)

I believe Solomon saw a workman rise before dawn, take his hard hat and tool belt and start to work. I believe he observed that man labor until the sun set, and he could see to work no longer; then return to his house. He took off the hard hat and the tool belt, ate, and slept. The second day, the same. The third, the fourth days, again the same. So the workman’s work was never finished, for the more he worked, the more he must work. The more he must work, the more he desired to rest.

For the workman, the end never seems to come, and yet, one day, it will. “For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” (Proverb 23:18)

I read a sermon that changed the way I view life. The title of the sermon was Blessings of Short Life, delivered by T. DeWitt Talmage. His text was Isaiah 57:1, “The righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” His premise was that all the earthly man seeks is down here, but the goal of a believer ought to be to get UP THERE.

He reasoned, that there is a man who works all day, 6am to 6pm, and is done. Then again, there is a man who in a morning’s worth of work, (7am to 12pm) is able to finish for the day. Yet again there is another who in a hurried hour or two may accomplish his entire work. Which of those three would you think is most blessed, was the most productive, or worked the hardest? We envy the one who finishes first, and we long to be relieved, rewarded, and removed from the struggle and temptations. According to the Bible that means there are just as many blessings in a short life as in a long one for a saved man. His work has an end.

The Christian sings, “We’ll work till Jesus comes,” and, “Let us hope and trust, let us watch and pray and labor till the Master comes,” and, “Work, for the night is coming.” If there is one thing I am taught from God’s word, if there is one thing obvious from the circumstances and sufferings of life, yes, if there is one thing I have learned by experience, is that this present life is NOT our rest. But, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9) Whether by death or resurrection, the end of work opens the doorway to mansions of eternal peace

For the workman, the end means mission accomplished. When you work on a large project, whether it is building a house or preparing a spreadsheet, from overseeing an entire campaign to repairing a single automobile, if it cannot be finished in a day, even when you clock out and go home, a part of you still thinks, still stresses about the job undone. A part of you works constantly until it is complete.

The Lord has a purpose for your life and work. He gave a Great Commission to all of His followers, and to each individual He gives a great mission: God’s perfect will. The sooner you find out what He has for you to do, the sooner you may get to it, and the sooner you will hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

It is no sadness to be finished. Three of the most blessed words known to mortal tongue are: “It is finished.” Once more, in the Revelation, the Lord Jesus will proclaim: “It is done.” Why do we seek so long to live here? Shouldn’t we seek the more to be about our Father’s business? Was not even our Saviour in his youth when at 33 years He accomplished His work?

I know that I look forward to payday. R.G. Lee said it best in the title of his sermon: “Payday – Someday.” You should not strive for your reward here- this is not payday. Don’t worry that you didn’t receive the recognition for some deed on earth- this is NOT payday. Don’t sorrow as others that have no hope in futility that makes you think your work is in vain- THIS IS NOT PAYDAY! “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

What a blessing to live here, in the eventide of the Church age. The day is almost through, and there is much work to be done. Today, read Matthew 20:1-16, and “Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.” Happy Labor Day!

Originally published September 7, 2015

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