Thursday, August 31, 2017

Our work or God's?

This morning's Psalm at Morning Prayer was Ps 92, and a couple of verses caught my eye. "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most HIgh; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the work of your hands I sing for joy." (Ps. 92.1-4) At this point in the year, for many of us there is that "back to work" feeling. Technically it may not be New Year, but as people come back from summer breaks and begin to re-engage with work, church, school or whatever it often feels like more of a New Year than January does. I find I have a tendency to reflect at this point (perhaps unfavourably) on what I have achieved , or failed to achieve, in the year that has passed, and resolve to do better in the coming year. I am full of plans, filling up spaces in the diary, thinking about the season ahead. There's nothing wrong with that in itself - it's a useful thing to do - but the Psalm reminds us that while we may only see the failures, the "could do better's" of our lives, God has been at work, steadfastly and faithfully, throughout, even the times in which, to us, there may seem to have been little going on, or when we may have felt we were going backwards. It is easy to be dissatisfied, to judge ourselves, our churches, our work, the things we have expended our time and energy on, and find them wanting. It is easy to see what we haven't accomplished, the people who haven't responded to our efforts to engage them, the targets we have missed and the plans that have come to nothing, but if we could see beneath the surface maybe we would see God at work in all sorts of ways of which we have been unaware. It's good that this Psalm reminds us of who is really doing what for whom. "YOU have made ME glad by YOUR work", says the Psalmist to God. All too often we think that we are supposed to be making God glad by our work, when actually it is the other way around. So perhaps, before rushing in to our "New Year" planning, we should take a moment to think of the things God has done in the past year, to give thanks for them and to value them, to notice the evidence of God's steadfastness and faithful love. What has God done in your life, your work, your church, that you could give thanks for?

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