Blog - Doing Earthwork

Does God Value Your Work Itself?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How can we evaluate our ordinary work itself? Consider the apple. You pull a Honeycrisp from your lunch bag and bite into its crunchy, tart sweetness. Simple, isn't it? Or is it? There's a story behind your seemingly effortless snack. And that story provides a micro-illustration of how God uses people in ordinary workplaces to sustain life on space-ship earth.

The Honeycrisp apple traces its ancestry to an Agricultural Experiment Station in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Researchers there crossbred the Keepsake apple with another variety, officially releasing the offspring, Honeycrisp, in 1991. From that beginning, that apple in your lunch bag may have arrived there via any number of routes. Let's imagine it happened this way.

An entrepreneurial couple in Wisconsin invests in land for a tree nursery. Seeing the market potential for such a long-lasting, taste-tempting apple, they gear up to propagate Honeycrisp trees for sale. They employ nursery workers who plant, fertilize, water and nurture the shoots to marketable size. Meanwhile, an ad writer in the nursery office prepares a catalog and website promoting the infant Honeycrisp trees.

In the Methow Valley of Eastern Washington, a farm family purchases 85 acres, with plans to turn it into an orchard. After reading the website on Honeycrisp, they order 1,000 plants. Then with a large tractor and trained crew, they plant their little “apple factories.” From their county extension agent, they learn how to fight bugs, diseases and weather.

Four or five years later they begin to reap the fruit of their investment and hard work. The apple that will eventually reach your lunch bag hangs on a tree in the north part of the orchard. A migrant farm worker pulls your apple off the branch and drops it in a box. A trucker hauls your apple to a warehouse, where technicians carefully control the temperature. Another truck driver transports your apple to a grocery store—the investment of another entrepreneur. A stocker puts your apple on display in the produce department. After selecting the apple, you take it to the counter, where a checkout clerk rings it up and bags it with your other groceries.

And after all those people put all that work into your apple, you're still able to buy it for right around a dollar! Through the everyday work of those people (and more too numerous to mention here), God has sustained you with fresh fruit for your lunch.

Now think of all the workers in everyday jobs who make it possible for you to wear shoes. To drive a car. To invest your money. To learn accounting. To stay warm in February. To drink pure water. To read a newspaper. To have a broken bone set. And on and on.

Yes this world will one day give way to a transformed earth. But in the meantime, God has an agenda for the here and now. He has purposes to carry out in the earth as it presently exists. And he has enlisted human beings as his crew to serve him by maintaining life in this planet—human life, animal life and plant life. He has gifted this one and that one with special talents and interests to carry out their diverse assignments.

Of all people, we who declare that Jesus is Lord should know that he is Lord not just of the religious but of all life and activity on planet earth. So we offer not just our witnessing on the job but our work itself as a service, a valuable “ministry,” to him.

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