When I was a teen my older brother got the idea that he wanted to make maple syrup and so I agreed. The sap runs in the spring and the track team starts practice then too, I was on it this particular year. So, Monday through Friday that spring consisted of heading off to school in the morning, wearing myself out at track practice after school then coming home and climbing up and down the hills we’d tapped maple trees to collect buckets full of sap from the scores of maple trees we’d tapped. It was an older fashioned process of using buckets as opposed to the system of tubes more sophisticated means used today to transport the sap from the tree to the collection center.
On Friday night began the long process of boiling down the gallons and gallons of sap from the week’s collection into syrup. They say it takes around a gallon of sap for one tablespoon of syrup, so it meant “sleeping” overnight in what was called the “sugar shanty”, sleeping in crude bunks and getting up every so often in shifts, stoking the fire to keep the sap boiling and overseeing it’s production from the faint taste of syrup in the sap to the rich tasting finished syrup. But as that first week of work ended and we tasted the finished product it was sooooo worth it to taste, not the cheap imitation of Aunt Jemina “syrup” but the real McCoy in God’s sweet sweet nectar known as maple syrup !! MMMMM, I can still taste that first batch, the hours of toil paid off tremendously and I recall eating many more pancakes that year !!!!
To each of us, God gives the privilege of good hard work in our lives. It comes in various expressions. Some cook, clean, make things, work in offices, work with their hands, some more with their heads than manual labor. But to all we have tasks to perform and ultimately to the glory of God. Even when we come to the point of retirement, there is still something God wants us to DO. And of course, there is much that needs done in His local church which sadly many either don’t want to expend the effort even for God or fail to realize the investment they are missing out on by not serving in some capactiy for the Lord through His church. We can so easily fall into the “entitlement” mentality of “somebody should do this in our church” – As a pastor, I’m still looking for Mr & Mrs Somebody to join us so we can get lots done !
The key verse in all the gospel of Mark is 10:45 which is a direct quote from our Lord, “For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.” He shows us good hard work in His earthly life and ministry, from a carpenter’s helper as a boy and young man to a prominent Rabbi Who spent His life teaching and training others to lay the foundation for the Church. But back to the syrup – when God presents an opportunity to work for Him, we tend to look intially at the cost (what kind of time will this exact from me? How hard will it be? etc.) rather than the sweet end result that can be had (bringing God glory, bringing blessings to others, storing up treasures in heaven and crowns to cast at His feet one day !). And even when we have the character to say yes to the task before us, often its only endured when God can help us to truly enjoy it since it is for Him. In essence, sweat for God can be sweet, if we look at life’s opportunities to serve through His eyes. So tackle that task for His glory and one day you too will taste God’s sweetest rewards !! “Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God !” (1Cor.10:31).