Jeff Haanen

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Peace in Your Work

The last two weeks have been overwhelming. In addition to my normal job (admissions director), I’ve taken on the task of planning a major 2-day conference. I didn’t fully know what I was getting into. Setting schedules, contacting speakers, arranging technology, coordinating volunteers, planning facilities, writing web content, arranging a live stream, and promotion. Promotion. We’ve contacted, it seems, everybody. And yet, my heart has been restless.

When I fall asleep, I think about the details. When I wake up, I worry if we’ll have a good turnout. My mind has nearly been ruled by this work. When I come home, I feel ashamed that I’m only able to give partial attention to my beautiful wife…and my beautiful family.

This morning, I sat next to my wife (and my one-week old daughter), and said, “You’re going to have to help me with this. I enjoy this work, but I have no Sabbath. Not just on Sunday, but this conference is taking me over. I need boundaries. I need peace.”

She sent me a text message this morning:

My love. You know it’s never really about how hard your work, or how much you get done; it’s about how God chooses to work. ‘Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to him be the glory’ Eph. 3:20.

God has given you good work to do, but work with freedom and peace because he has already won!

This is exactly what I needed to hear. Praise God for godly wives! When the frantic worry creeps in, the worry that I haven’t done enough, or that things won’t turn out – that worry comes from not understanding the gospel. This is what I had missed:

(1) God has already accomplished the great work of salvation on the cross. Peace comes when I realize that the most important work has already been done. I’m free.

(2) God is at work today, in and through my work. The “work under the work”, as Tim Keller calls it, arises when I erroneously believe that it’s only me at work here – me against the world! This is not true. God himself is working in not only planning this conference, but in gathering people and using it to bring about change in hearts. And he is able to do WAY more than I can ask or think or imagine. He is mighty. And He is working today in ways I can’t even imagine.

Christians must plan God into their strategic plans. That is, they must fully trust that He will show up, and that if he doesn’t things won’t work out. No contingency plans, but a deep trust that God is a person who is alive in this world, in human history, and in our lives. “Waiting on the Lord” is a strategy. Perhaps the best strategy.

Jesus himself said we can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). Surely, we can (and the world does) accomplish all kinds of work without Christ. But nothing of eternal value, nothing that will survive the refiner’s fire (1 Cor. 3:13) will survive if it’s not done with Jesus.

Today, I go back to work. The resurrected Son of Man works alongside me. I have nothing to worry about. I still work hard – and long hours. But I work with a deep peace.

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