Recently, as I started the last chapter of Romans in my quiet time it struck me that Paul sent greetings to three women who have worked hard in the Lord. What got me what that in this particular letter he didn’t say these women worked hard for the Lord or even with Him but in Him!
Well-known worker Elisabeth Elliot spent time with a tribe in South America translating our Book into their heart language. At the end of her time there, all her hard work was destroyed and she was left with nothing to show for all those years.
If my goal is to work for Him or with Him without being in Him, then if something like this were to happen to me I would be devastated. To work for someone requires you to have things accomplished at the end of the day – otherwise it would feel like a failed day. To work with someone requires you to bring your own strength and resources to the table.
On the days when my language lessons end in fogginess and confusion; the times when I leave work frustrated because tasks I could get done in one hour in Australia seem to take the whole day here; and those moments when I find out that trying to be kind to someone gave them the wrong impression, these three little words mean everything to me! In the Lord.
“What is the chief end of man? It is to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever.”
To work for Him and with Him without being in Him will inevitably lead to tears and frustration because it means working in my weak strength and powerless power. In the end I will have nothing of worth to show. But to work in Him means I can work in His strength. I can make decisions in His wisdom, I can live at peace with others in His peace, and I can glory in His joy, righteousness, faithfulness, power, and Fatherly love.
Elisabeth’s response to the tragedy reflected her knowledge of this: “Now in the clear light of day I see that God, if he was merely my accomplice, he had betrayed me. If, on the other hand He was God, He had freed me.” She saw that her ultimate reason in going to South America was not to complete a Bible translation or to plant a church, it was to glorify Him and to enjoy Him there. Elisabeth and the women that Paul greeted were able to work hard for and with the Lord because they were working in Him. They could work hard in Him and then trust that the right results were up to Him.
Please pray that I might live and work in Him and not try to live in my own strength. I need to remember this daily.