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Ain’t Been In Vain For Nothin’

There are some jobs which overwhelm me with their seeming futility, like making beds and cleaning the kitchen. I know they make things more pleasant in the few minutes they remain tidied, but those minutes do feel few. Laundry has definitely become my greatest nemesis, like an alien superpower which can multiply itself at greater speeds than I can battle it. It takes over the hallway, the playroom and our bedroom floor. I push it back a bit, spend way too long folding and hanging and putting away the clean stuff and what do you know, as if I never did all of that, the piles have been replaced with new ones. I begin to despise these responsibilities in which great effort leaves little impact. I quite prefer little effort with big impact…could I get some of that please? I am by nature lazy and far more passionate about quantifiable investment, measurable accomplishment, and evident impact.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. 1 Cor. 15:45-49

I share in the curse Adam merited for his disobedience, that by the sweat of my brow will I eat and that my work will be toilsome. I feel that. At times my GI Jane side doesn’t mind and even taunts the challenges to “bring it on!” But mostly, I’m like Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin who declares while marching with fellow soldiers in rain, “I just want to wear sandals and go out to lunch!” But here is the good news, because of the person and work of Jesus, I am not left under the curse even though its effects are still present. I can now share in the blessings merited by Jesus’ obedience! I can enjoy the success of labor and satisfaction of labor as Adam and Eve did before the fall. I can experience the effectiveness of labor as one who has been made to image God and have dominion as He intended before sin’s corruption.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:53-58

When Jesus said, “now is the day of the Lord”, and “it is finished”, and “I have come to make all things new”, He ushered in a new era in which sin revealed by the Law no longer reigned supreme. Instead, the new creation was breaking through and, like signs of spring after Narnia’s long winter, evidence of Jesus’ post resurrection seat on the throne is now everywhere. We are not drowning in chaos and decay as our lack of righteousness deserves, but experience not only His mercies each day, but His beauty and restoration of shalom too. Perhaps that is what those five minutes of the kitchen’s cleanliness can remind me or the few hours the beds stay made up or the .05 seconds “all the laundry” is put away.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:16-18 Sometimes its the lower level stresses and “suffering” that sucks the life out of me the most. The more intense things often get my adrenaline going. In contrast, it is the unremarkable “daily grind” that can be most defeating and depressing for me. But what this grand story of redemption tells me, from Genesis to Revelation, is that I am not defeated by futility nor is my labor in vain…even the bed making and kitchen cleaning and laundry enslavement. (: The glory of His person and work will be revealed in all of creation, from the labor of restoring broken marriages and broken children to the restoration of broken landscapes and broken relationships and even in the small evidences of His order and beauty that He shares in the dailyness of life. Jesus did not come only to redeem the important or famous people, the important or famous places or the important or newsworthy situations. His dominion is not only over the major events and major influencers. There are no “more important” people or circumstances in His Kingdoms, except His Son to whom all the stories and personalities, suffering and glory point. And what a privilege that I, as part of His church, get to be a co-laborer with Christ in this glorious restoration process!

So, in the words of Lina Lamont in Singin’ In the Rain, “If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’. Bless you all.”

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25: 34-40

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