Monday was the first work day on our mission trip to His Eyes in Honduras. Our team learned firsthand Biblical lessons about working hard for the Lord.
Our team was split into two groups. One group spent the day backfilling an area where the mission house will be expanded as part of a remodeling project. The team loaded a pickup truck with large rocks from a nearby road construction project, then dumped the rocks into the area to be backfilled. The process was repeated over and over again – all by hand of course – and the space slowly filled.
The other team spent the day at the church next door. In the morning, they dug the footers for a new bathroom, pick axes and shovels slowly penetrating the rocky ground. In the afternoon, they moved truckloads of sand – one 5-gallon bucket at a time – that will be used to make the concrete for the building foundation.
It was all hard work, especially for a group of people not used to manual labor. And it was painstaking slow at times, especially for people from a task-driven culture that is used to instant gratification. At the end of the day, we were tired, sore, and dirty – and satisfied.
Ironically, no one will ever see the work we did. The backfilled area will eventually be covered by a concrete floor. The trenches we dug for the footers will eventually be the support for the foundation of a church bathroom, the sand we moved just one component of the concrete for that foundation. But all of the work was essential. No floor can be poured until the area is backfilled. No bathroom can be built without the proper foundation. Without the floor, there is no mission house. Without the bathroom there is, well, a mess.
The work we did illustrates at least two important Bible lessons. Paul uses the analogy of the parts of the human body to teach us that we all have our place in the body of Christ and that each of us is essential to make the body function. We are not all eyes or all ears or all feet. If we were all ears, how would we see? If we were all eyes, how would we walk? And sometimes we have to perform the unglorious functions necessary for the body to survive, just like parts of our bodies do. One day we might be asked to preach the word; the next, to dig the hole for the footers for the bathroom.
Jesus taught a similar lesson with the parable of the harvest. Some plant, some water, some pull the weeds, and some bring in the crops. But there is no crop if the seed is not planted and watered and the weeds pulled. The one who brings in the harvest is not performing any greater function than the one who plowed the ground for the seed to be planted. Both are necessary and essential to the final crop.
Our work day in Honduras is much like the Christian life. We are each called to do the hard work necessary to bring others to Christ, work that God has assigned to us and asked us to perform a specific function. Sometimes, that work is the hard work of building the foundation on which the walls of faith will be built. That work can be painful, with little recognition, and progress can be frustratingly slow. But when we work hard for the Lord in all things, we can be assured that God will use our work to produce the harvest He desires.