Come, Labor On!

Posted by on January 4, 2009

I have the week off from church so we were planning to worship at another church as we generally do.  but t his week, Lydia is sick with some kind of stomach flu.  Rather than leave Eleanor and Lydia at home alone, we decided to have “home church” today.

I put on some recorded hymns as we ate breakfast.  As the boys and I worked on cleaning up the kitchen, the hymn “Come, Labor On” came on.  Now I’ve always wished that that hymn had a better tune.  It sounds like a funeral song, but the words are great.  They speak of our response to God’s grace.  We had already heard “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” with its line,

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all

That’s true, and I really feel it.  I personally feel the call to service my Lord with my whole being.  That’s where “Come, Labor On” comes in.

Come, labor on.
Who dares stand idle, on the harvest plain
While all around him waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
“Go work today.”

Come, labor on!
Claim the high calling angels cannot share;
To young and old the Gospel gladness bear;
Redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.

Come, labor on!
Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here:
Through feeble agents, may we all fulfill
God's righteous will.

Come, labor on!
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
Till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,
And a glad sound comes with the setting sun,
“Well done, well done!”

Taken the wrong way, this hymn might sound like we have to earn the love of God. But that’s not what it means at all. God’s love for us and self-giving for us in Jesus Christ is secure.  Now, God has chosen to use us to do his work. And serving in God’s fields, bringing Good News and joy to others is generally pleasant work. Also, there’s nothing like the feeling that God is pleased with you – “Well done! Well done!”

It always puzzles me when others I meet don’t feel the same desire to serve the Lord. If you don’t know him, I get it. But when Christians say that they’re through serving God or too busy to serve, or it’s not a priority, it confuses me. I can understand saying, “I really want to serve God, but I can’t figure out how to do it with the kids and the job, etc.” That I understand. Sometimes, people need permission to rest a bit! Or a different way to serve that they haven’t considered yet. The song has a word for that too: “No arm so weak but may do service here.” Anyone who desires to serve God can do so.

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

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