Folks, I don’t know if you remember Allen Levi’s previous posts here in the Rabbit Room, so I’ll reintroduce you. He’s a southern gentleman from Columbus, Georgia, a singer/songwriter, a lay farmer (if there is such a thing) and is one of my all-time favorite people. In light of Lanier Ivester’s recent post about work and art, I thought it was appropriate to steal this post from Allen’s blog. (Also, since I happen to know Allen’s at least 12 feet tall, that makes the pictured sunflower a freak of nature.)
I’ve been scolded for returning to my old pattern of website delinquency and hope you’ll forgive my absence from the blog. Simply stated, summer has been perfectly wonderful and I feel like I’ve achieved the desired balance between indoor/outdoor and mental/physical work. I’m still writing and recording for several hours on most days and am on schedule to post some new songs in August. Just this past week, I finished my wood shed and I’m eager to dig in to the chicken coop project soon. And everyday there is something garden-related that keeps me locally fed, mostly tomatoes and okra of late. It’s all good.
I taught Sunday School this morning for the high school class. It was me and one student, a bright and inquisitive 10th grader named Kiana. We talked about heaven, in keeping with our lesson text from 1 Thessalonians
K: “What do you think we’ll do there?”
Me: “It’s hard to know isn’t it, but i rather think that we’ll work.”
K: “You think we’ll work in heaven? I thought there wasn’t supposed to be anything unpleasant or difficult there.”
Me: “Well, maybe work isn’t unpleasant or difficult. We were created to work, and its original design was one of blessing. Think about it; do you remember when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, before they disobeyed God and ate the fruit? When everything was still good and God walked with them every day? Before there was any sin in the world?”
Me: “That was life in a still-perfect world, wasn’t it?”
Me: “And what did Adam and Eve do then? How did they spend their days? They worked. They had a job. They were caretakers of the creation around them. In Genesis it says that ‘The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ And the work was good, pleasurable, God-honoring. I think we could say that it was even worshipful.”
Me: “But then Adam and Eve messed up, right? And after sin had entered the world, then, and only then did work become cursed, a hardship, a grind. It is pure conjecture on my part but maybe, in heaven, work is restored to what it is supposed to be and it will be a part of our life there. It’s hard to imagine how good it might be, but even now, there are days that I labor and have a deep sense of love for it, whether it’s songwriting work or weeding the garden. And maybe, in some way, that’s why we’re told to work with all our hearts at whatever we do; because it might help to prepare us for our return to the Garden, to ‘Paradise Regained.’ Anyway, it’s just a thought.”
I sleep really well at nights in the present routine. A short bit of reading is usually all it takes to put me under.
Yes, Allen, you nailed it. We have made the work itself such a curse in our age, rather than the obstacles and inertia. Your words ring with such heartening truth; they run deep with that genuine simplicity of godly wisdom. There is such joy in work undertaken for the love of God and the life He has given. Thank you.
Makes me think of this passage from Ecclesiastes which my husband and I love and are always quoting at one another:
“Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
And from one (much lowlier) lay-farmer to another, I think there is such a thing. 😉 I just can’t grow sunflowers that are 15 feet tall…
Great post. I recently announced to my family that I have a hunch I will work as a tree-fort builder in heaven.
I’m so happy to see Allen Levi in the Rabbit Room! I love discovering connections between good things that I didn’t know were connected.
Thanks, Allen and RR.
I need to have lunch with Allen Levi. I think he’s accidentally living my dream life.
Wouldn’t that kind of mess up your dream-life to have a non-ideal you show up for lunch? Then again, you could point and laugh, so maybe it wouldn’t be all bad.
Wonderful reminder; thanks, Allen. My sunflowers top out around ten feet; what’s your secret?
Makes me believe that when work becomes worship it is not grevious. On the flip side we have made worship out to be work and well we see what has happened.
Allen, my brother has recently discovered gardening and its the happiest, most productive I’ve ever seen him. It also seems to be the only thing that is spiritually significant in his life. By the way he baked some okra in butter, salt and pepper and it was the best I’ve ever had.
Great to see you back in these parts.
A fellow Georgian
Good article. At the time of the fall in the Garden of Eden, people would have seen their bodies starting to lose resilience and looking ahead they would for the first time begin to see the end of their life. This must have marked a new sort of passage of time. No longer was it just an eternal passing of days and weeks, but rather a segment with a clear beginning and end. I wonder if this new ‘time’ perhaps chronically tempts us to look at what pleasurable thing we might rather be doing to fill our bodies natural craving instead of ‘toiling’, knowing that time has become a measurable entity. Imagine a world where we’d never have to hurry, worry or leave things undone. A place where we’d never run out of time. A place we’d never feel too rushed to enjoy whatever we happened to be doing at that very moment.
Ahhh Allen Levi, one of my favorite people. It’s good to see him here and to hear from him again. He always makes everything better around me. It’s usually never too bad to begin with… But he still makes it better… What a blessing.
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