Watching Jacob start kindergarten reminds me of the days when I began kindergarten. My memory is both a blessing and a curse. In moments when I am preaching and illustrating stories and happenings, it is a blessing; but it is a curse when the visual of my kindergarten outfit and my clown bag that I took to school is engrained in my mind. Yet, that was when I began my journey to see where life would take me. Because I was young when I felt called to be a pastor, I did not know back then that I would do it for sure. Recently Jacob asked Mindy and me, “How long do I have to do this?” (Meaning how long does he have to go to school.) Wow! Hard to answer a 6 year old and say, “Oh, about 20-something years. Take your life, triple it and add a couple years, and there is your answer.“ No, we didn’t do that to him, but it provides the beginning of understanding the labor of our lives. We work on so many things, and life is exhausting. Sometimes we can be like Jacob, and in the midst of it ask ourselves How much longer do I have to do this?
I find two keys that help me respond to this. One is to always look back. Often when we look back at life we see everything God has done in our lives. It puts a new perspective on what is going on right now. People that I counsel may not love this at first, but after we trace back a few years, they are able to see what God is doing and what He has done. The second way is to help others. When we take the benefit of our labor and see how it helps others, it is another reminder of how God is working. In some ways, my kindergarten days may not be fun to remember, but in other ways they remind me to walk that journey with my son. I find that if I am constantly engaged in how God can use me, and take personal interest in watching how God works in the lives of others, it encourages me and takes the focus off my current state. This is what our Romans passage is about this weekend--how we can labor with others. Since it is the Labor Day weekend, it is the perfect time to talk about that. Even Labor Day can be focused on the exhaustiveness of our labor, but this weekend we will talk about the labor of love that God performed for us, and how we can share that with others.