I close the Coleman stove and touch my forehead: my skin is moist from the hot sun's meddling on my campsite. Night has descended, leaving me with an orange polyester mound and metal poles to make sense of. I don't know where to start, but I start somewhere: a small human task on my bit of the earth.
I find myself in a season that I don't like right now. My job is 40-plus hours of busy. Add a one-year-old on top of that, plus all of life's other demands, and yes, I get stressed and sometimes consume two Christmas tree cakes before 6 a.m. (True Story.).
My secular occupations bleed into my spiritual life more than I would like. For example, reading the Bible has to be scheduled, or it doesn't happen. I faithfully serve in a ministry at church but wish I could do more. Let's be honest: going to church at 11 a.m. sometimes feels like pushing Mount Kilimanjaro.
At about 11 p.m. the other night (I should never think or talk about the tough stuff at 11 o'clock at night.), I became frustrated with myself for not doing more at church, and I cried those big, ugly tears. John, my husband, responded in his typicallyl calm and logical manner. (This was annoying to me at first because I wanted him to be upset because I was upset!) He said that this is a season where we are making tents. It is a reference to Acts 18:1-6 where Paul describes, in part, his occupation of making tents to support himself.
John likes to point that there is nothing wrong with simple, honest secular work. It is not shameful. Similarly, Matthew Henry writes of Paul: “Though Paul was entitled to support from the churches he planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling. An honest trade, by which a man may get his bread, is not to be looked upon with contempt by any.” John says this work we do can be just what the Lord uses for his kingdom, a crucial component of the life-soup concoction the Lord will use to nourish the souls of the unsaved, leading them to choose ultimate satiety in Christ.
I don't like simplicity. It seems backwards, but it's true. For example, I hate reading the directions even though they are, arguably, the simplest way to put something together. It's dumb, I know. Honestly? I want to make things way more complicated than they need to be.
When I am stressed, I often remind myself that Jesus simply did the will of the father, often saying no to or delaying requests if it wasn't within the Lord's will. For example, he put off visiting a dying Lazarus and then brought glory to God when he raised him from the dead.
How can I bring glory to God in this season? I need to look to the Father for his guidance in my toil, remembering that the secular work I do is a component of my testimony here on earth. “For our boast is this,” says the Apostle Paul, “the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you” (1 Cor. 1:12, ESV).
Now back to this tent. Maybe I should read the directions.:)
Hilary Covil, a member of Peace, is wife to John and mother to Claira.