A year and ½ ago, I was working at an apothecary, at the police crime lab, as a landlord over rental properties and working on my first novel. At that same time, I was meeting lots of friends and family of my boyfriend. It became our joke; he introduced me as his “drug-dealing, C.S.I., slumlord, writer girl-friend.”
We ask it all the time. It’s always in the top five questions as people get to know one another. It appears to define and reveal much about a person. We become defined by what we do.
I would argue that more important than what we do is WHO we work for…
In this midst of his cancer treatments, my father ended up with pneumonia and a fractured back (in seven places!) Much to his dismay, he had to admit he needed help. I was able to take time off from the crime lab and flew to Colorado to stay with him and help him in any way he needed.
Finally, something I could do! A form of power over this power-less and uncontrollable cancer. I envisioned making him pancakes, organizing his pantry, running errands for him and, of course, praying for his recovery with him.
My father was a life-long packrat with his very own style of organized chaos. It drove me nuts, but it worked for him.
I arrived ready to go through all the piles.
But that wasn’t what he wanted me to do.
My father prided himself on his clean floor. With the fractured back, he no longer could attend to his sparkling clean linoleum. He was a perfectionist when it came to his floor. Despite the dishes in the sink, stacks of bills, piles of laundry and everything else; his floor got special attention; it required a very special cleaning agent and no spot or speck of dust made it to his floor.
It was his number one priority. It mattered to him.
He gave me the daunting task of cleaning his floor to his satisfaction. I didn’t see it as important. I didn’t want to do it.
Like it was yesterday, I recall it:
I hunted down that “totally awesome” cleaner at the Dollar Tree and “hit the floor.” I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the linoleum beneath his wooden kitchen table. My back was aching and my eyes watered as I inhaled the fumes of that “special” cleaning agent. In my fervor, I banged my head hard on the paper and piled-laden table above me. I began crumbling under the pressure to perform to his satisfaction. As hot tears stung my eyes, I set aside what I was doing and I remembered who I was doing it for.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)
My attitude, my posture, my breathing all changed. The pounding in my head was replaced with the ability to endure. When my father later (and the rest of the week) pointed out all the spots and specks I missed, it was with a different heart that I returned to my knees and worked for Him.
A friend of mine is caring for her daughter in the end stages of rare and horrific cancer. (Aren’t they all??) Along with caring for her daughter’s household, pets, and every medical need, my friend attempts to balance working full-time, caring for herself, her own household and her pets. The treatments and pain, resentments and “chemo-brain,” years of buried mistakes and regrets surfacing make daunting the task of that care and her ability to endure it.
So I asked her, “Who are you working for?”
She looked at me like I was crazy, but I explained with my “floor story.”
Returning to the care of her daughter; visit after visit, doctor appointment after appointment, through the cancer treatments, laundry loads, groceries, cleaning, caring and carrying the burden of the breakdowns, unloaded anger and harsh words spoken from a tortured heart, she remembers Who she works for.
“…I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!…when you refused to help the least of these my brother and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Matthew 25:37,45)
The next time you DO something that you don’t want to do and you are doing it for someone who might be less than grateful for what you have DONE; I hope you are able to return to your knees, feel the change in your heart, and remember that Who we work for is far more important.