Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”

For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning- though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.

May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

Meaningful work. It’s the goal of every employee. So often, whether as an employer interviewing job applicants or a consultant on a fact finding mission for a new client, I was reminded that simply earning a wage isn’t good enough for most folks. No, what we all want beyond income is meaningful work, a job where what we do makes an impact, not just a living. Life is already too full of trouble and sorrow to have to endure a meaningless job on top of everything else. And in ministry, I’ve seen the most dramatic examples of this; bright, talented people walking away from well paying jobs to serve as missionaries just so they can feel like they’ve made a difference.

Take the case of Kevin and Patti. He was in the marketing department for a major consumer products company and she sold real estate. They weren’t rich, but were doing pretty well for themselves, and had just put the finishing touches on converting the house they’d bought into the home of their dreams.

Then they decided to sell everything and walked away from their jobs to start a church that featured a free breakfast program for grade school kids in one of the worst slums of Mexico.  They lived in a 3rd floor walk-up apartment they remodeled themselves, home schooled their two girls, and made do on a missionary’s wage, which was far less than they were used to.  They began devoting each morning to giving 60-100 kids the only nutritional meal they would get all day, all of it funded by contributions.  Later they expanded it to include a kindergarten program as well.  Both continue to this day

“The need was there, we heard the Lord telling us to go, so we went,” they said.

Shortly after arriving in Mexico, Samantha and I were privileged to join them for a morning. The sense of fulfillment on their faces as they basked in the love of those kids was a sight to behold, and I swear I could hear the Lord saying, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matt 18:5)

Kevin and Patti committed several years to this project, and had a difficult time turning it over to their successors when their  time was up.  Do you think they’ll ever be the same as they were before? And how about the kids they’ve fed and put on the road to a good education? Who can imagine what the Lord will do through them? That’s meaningful work.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29) Kevin and Patti began by believing in Him for their salvation. Then, out of gratitude for that, they began believing in Him for the work of their hands.

As believers, we’re all in ministry. You may not be called to drop everything and become a missionary in a foreign land, but you just might be the best one in the whole world to bring comfort to a next-door neighbor or an associate on the job. To find out what meaningful work the Lord has in mind for you, try making that last verse of Psalm 90 your prayer. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”