Wednesday, July 16, 2003

A Prayer for Work

Just a few minutes ago my son Cameron and his friend Justin appeared in the door of my office. I'm sitting here writing, trying to get an article done by the end of the day.

"Would you take us to the pool?" he asked, hopefully.

"I can't, honey..." I said. "I've got to work."

"Well, Justin's dad might do it, but he's on the Internet looking for a job."

Only a 10-year-old could throw that out, so unflapped by the significance of the information. He was just interested in going to the pool. But suddenly I was washed through with a wave of compassion for Justin, for his dad, for their entire family. And I reeled for a moment, thinking of all the people I know right now who are out of work. Several people in my immediate family are struggling, out of work, or looking for work. Every which way I turn, people are experiencing layoffs, downsizes, or company reorganizations. Most of my work comes from the technical publishing industry, and we've all been hard hit in the last two quarters--some people are saying computer publishing is down 50% across the country. These are not just numbers. They represent great anxiety, family troubles, bad moods, and huge looming fears for the future.

I've been self-employed for 15 years, and a single mom for most of them. I know what it means to go out to the mailbox, reminding myself with each step, "My checkbook is not my savior." I remember the feeling of relief when the check would finally come and the feeling of worry as I watched it go immediately out again. I lived through those late night panics when I would suddenly sit bolt upright in bed and look at the ceiling and say, "You do have a plan for this, right? I mean, I know you have your eye on the sparrow--but you're not going to forget my mortgage payment, are you?"

Trust in God is the single best investment I have ever made. We draw heavily on our trust when we move into the uncertain and unpredictable situations in our lives. When we're out of work, our feelings can overwhelm us--it feels like we'll never find work again. But I hold to the belief that God knows what he's doing. We don't always understand the plan in the moment (or even afterward), but I trust that if he can keep a whole generation alive in the desert by delivering daily bread with the morning dew, he can figure out a way to keep our finances afloat until the next position or project appears. I just stay very close to God in prayer and do my absolute best with any work I have; then the rest is up to him. And even if he wants to change my priorities, moving us to a smaller house, causing us to shed some of our debt, helping us to refocus ourselves on him instead of our income, we know he'll be with us to face whatever lies ahead. I'd like to offer a prayer for all those who are seeking work and going through worrysome financial times (please join in if you feel so moved):
    Dear Father, help us to turn to you in the big and small things of life. Give us a real sense of the abundant universe you have created; help us to notice the richness in our lives and the many, many gifts you place in our paths every single day. Please comfort us and make your presence so real that we know you walk with us always. And help us not to place our belief in the scarcity we see, but to affirm, like the king you told to dig ditches in the desert before the rains began, that you are surely bringing good to us. Also, Lord, remind us of the many things we give each day--service to others, love, encouragement, forgiveness, blessing--and protect our hearts from becoming miserly in fear. Giving is your way. We know you are total love and total blessing. We thank you for your love and guidance, and pray that this time will bring us ever closer to you, dear God. Amen.

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