Posted by: Brian Musser | July 20, 2012

God the Ultimate Maintenance Man

On Fridays I will regularly post about Work-Ship.  Work-Ship is my theological attempt to combine what we do as workers with what we do as worshipers.  I write on this topic primarily in hopes to better prepare Drexel students to incorporate their faith into their work but I have come to the conclusion that it is also needed for the larger Christian community.  You can find several of my other posts on this topic here on this site under the category of Work-Ship or more extensively at my other blog-site Work-Ship specifically designated for this topic.

I have quite an employment history for being a 35 year old man.  It is one of the ways that I fit most securely within Generation X.  There was a time when we could talk about a person’s vocational calling as if it was a static concept for their life.  In ancient Jewish culture farmers were born into farming families, by farming parents.  They eventually raised farming children and died when they couldn’t farm anymore.  In the New Testament Greco-Roman world, occupations were solid objects.  When Luther was more fully developing the idea of vocation into a theological concept, he was still ministering in a time where your job was no a matter of choice or discussion.  Even as recently as my father who had on one profession for on company his entire career, you life’s work was truly a lifetime commitment.  That is no longer the case.  There is a new question in our lives.  What should I do for work?  And it is being individually asked at an ever increasing rate.  Occupational mobility is a recent phenomenon and I am an excellent example.  Since graduating college, I have been:

  • Semester Intern with Baptist Campus Ministries in Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Intern at the Delaware Museum of Natural History
  • Associate Pastor of the First Baptist Church of North East, MD
  • Spanish and Physics teacher at Elkton Christian Schools
  • Janitor for the Jesus Loves Me Childcare Center
  • Laboratory Technician at (what is now) Charles Rivers Laboratories
  • Laboratory Manager at the Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Landscaper
  • And currently I am the Baptist Campus Minister at Drexel University

That list might look like a lot. I haven’t been job hopping as much as it seems.  Several of those positions I held at the same time.  I will at a later time further develop this idea of occupational mobility.  As you can see it is a concept with which I am personally familiar.

Although there is a diversity of jobs on the list, several of them had a similar idea to them.  At the Museum one of my responsibilities was to maintain and preserve the collections well.  As the Janitor i needed to ensure that things at the end of the day looked exactly like they did at the beginning of the day.  When I was a lab tech much of my time was spent checking on and caring for animals.  The way I described my role as a lab manager was to make sure everything needed was prepared and ready before it was needed.  Landscaping is often about the proper care of existing plants, yards, and gardens.  In these jobs there was always a maintenance part to the work.  I would venture a guess that all jobs have at least some piece to them that is maintenance based.  Today we are going to discuss God the Father as a sustainer.  Let’s examine a few specific verses about God the Sustainer.

Act 14:17

Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven
and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

Psalms 104:10-30

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills;
They give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.
O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit,
they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

God the Father works as the sustainer of all things.  God is intimately involved in every detail of what this world needs to function.  God sustains humanity.  God sustains creation.  God even ordains and organizes the moments of history.  The universe would not work without the ever present God.  When Jesus prayed “Our Father who is in heaven,…”  That word “heaven” means our typical concept of heaven: the far away dwelling place of God, but it means much more than that.  It also means the sky and the atmosphere above us and it means the air around us.  A God who is in “the heavens” is both transcendent but also near.   God’s near presence is his sustaining presence.

What does it mean for God to sustain us?

What are some of the necessary skills that God needs to be sustaining?

He has to have compassion.  He has to care.  He has to be patient.  He has to persevere.  He has to maintain.  He has to be willing to do the same thing repetitively, over and over again.  To us repetitive work can become a drudgery.  It can be mundane.  Both since God is perfect nothing He does ever has a sense of imperfection to it.  Repetitive work to God must be a joy.  He must enjoy sustaining us!

There are many jobs and careers that relate to this aspect of God sustaining power.  Many jobs maintain and sustain things.  Can you think of specific careers that this is the primary focus of their work?  We have an entire category of jobs entitled maintenance.  Have you ever seen maintenance work as necessarily divine, God-like?  When you maintain something, you are working like God works!

How could this simple concept change the way you approach your job? 

What are some specific steps you can do to work more like God? 

Do you see the work you do as requiring the same type of skills and actions that God used when He was sustaining things?

How are you sustaining things within your work environment like God? How is it different?

How can you sustaining things within the parameters of your work lead you to worship God?

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