The author E.B. White once thought about how his wife Katherine planted bulbs in her garden every year in late October. At this point, it might have been her last time doing this.
As time passed and her frailty began to show on this monumental occasion, White observed that “the small, hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying O,” wrote White.
“Plotting the resurrection” is a phrase I’ve come to love because it captures the attitude Christians are encouraged to take in life: faithful, continuous perseverance in our daily tasks with hope for its ultimate significance.
I used to spend the majority of my time in an uninspiring office building constructed in the 1960s. In order to get to my office on the third floor, I walked two flights of stairs every day for 34 years. I flipped the switch to turn on the lights. My coat was already on the hook when I realized what I’d done. It was time to log on to the computer. I listened to the messages. I check my email on a regular basis. I called people back. I responded to e-mails. I composed I’m an avid reader. I went from one box to the next, moving papers and documents. I had a discussion about it. I’ve had disagreements with others in the past. I sat patiently and awaited the answer. This week I made more phone calls and responded to more e-mails. Finally, I logged out of my computer at 5:30, climbed out of my chair, put on my coat, closed the door, walked down two flights of stairs, and waved to the guard as I walked out of the door.
I woke up the next morning and repeated the process. I would guess that I did that procedure 4,250 times over the course of my 34-year career.
Ordinary life in its most banal form. The drudgery of it, the endless repetition, would have weighed heavily on me if it weren’t for Jesus’ resurrection. One possibility is that the feeling of meaninglessness sets in, leading to cynicism, laziness, and even despair.
And yet, even the most routine of tasks is an opportunity for a Christian to offer it up to God, trusting that He will take it up and use it for His glory in some way that we cannot yet imagine. The work we do here on Earth and the work we do in heaven are linked by a common thread. Even if it’s tainted by sin and burdened by the travail of creation, what we do now has real significance.
“Each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will disclose it,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:13. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” is the command to the Colossians. What we do is what we are made to do, no matter how mundane, and God uniquely equips us for certain work or works that we perform. Ultimately, he intends to sanctify and carry forward all that is good in that work to the New Creation, a world that has been re-created.
As a result of this, an elderly woman continues to plant bulbs in the cold soil of October year after year, believing that spring will bring new life. That’s why I’ve committed 34 years of my life to a cause that will endure in all things good. In fact, God is plotting my resurrection, and I am placing my faith in Him for it to happen.
My name is Steve West, and thanks for having me.