"a land of hard work"

One thing that intimidates me a bit in our move to the farm is how much the country seems "a land of hard work." Lots of physical labor of course, which I don't mind. But also the image of the farmer rising early and toiling long hours, and the respectability of that, honoring the one who can bear the heavy load. The sense of pride in working to exhaustion. Of course this is not found only in the country, but it's clearly here also.

It reminded me of something I wrote about "hard work" a year ago, commenting on "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." That and the entries that followed focused on a different setting for work (activism), but I think the point is just as important here. The emphasis on hard work does direct our attention to ourselves, to our own capabilities. Encourages trust in the power of human will and effort. Certainly this can result in many impressive (and valuable) accomplishments—but at what spiritual cost?

I don't find much in Jesus' life and teaching that honors hard work. Jesus honors faith. He emphasizes and demonstrates complete dependence on God's will and God's power. And this clearly directs attention, not to us, but to God. Where our attention should always be directed.

This is what I need to focus on here, as I have been all along. I don't need to try to impress people by my hard work or try to build the retreat ministry quickly through long and intense efforts. God has prepared me already for what he wants me to bring here. And God has offered this place and vision to us as a gift, not as a product of our own minds and hands, but as an act of overwhelming generosity.

That's what I continue to hope for.