Genesis paints a picture of the beginning. Earth in it’s perfect, Edenic state. And then came the choice. Then the fall. Since the fall, the perfect earth was downgraded and mankind learned to work, even to toil and till and sweat to obtain food, increase, knowledge, and pleasure. (Study Genesis 3 & Moses 5)
In pondering the idea of “toiling” as of late, I feel that my soul has been brought to attention. A divine whisper has asked me to accept and even embrace my time on this Telestial earth as the time to toil and sweat all the days of my life – and this Telestial-type toiling will call down upon me Celestial-type blessings.
I ask myself:
Do I avoid hard work?
Do I cut corners in my daily responsibilities?
Do I search for the easy way out?
If yes (and the answer is usually yes), then I might be keeping myself from Celestial-type blessings.
Today’s society is all about making things easier & faster. Taking the “toil” out of our days. But just because that is the trend of society does not mean it is correct. We are all victim to this fashion forward way of thinking everything should be given to us immediately. But there are huge repercussions when we no longer need to work for what we want.
“Energetic, purposeful work leads to vigorous health, praiseworthy achievement, a clear conscience, and refreshing sleep. Work has always been a boon to man. May you have a wholesome respect for labor whether with head, heart, or hand. May you ever enjoy the satisfaction of honest toil.”
-Ezra Taft Benson (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (1988), 481)
For example: Easier & faster food – No need to sweat in the fields to have calories delivered to our bodies for sustenance. Factories can chemically concoct and engineer anything we want to taste, seal it in plastic, and have it in our hands for pennies. But the lack of work we put into harvesting and gathering our own food and water has brought a mammoth lack of nutrition with a subsequent health downfall and debilitating deficiencies.
Another example: Easier & faster communication – No need to write a heart felt letter or gather for a meeting since we can quickly text, email and “media socialize.” A speedy text filled with a dozen heart emojis, or a glance at a friend’s social media profile to get an update is only a click away. (Although fun and fast, I believe the benefit to quick communication is to be a supplement, rather than a replacement, for face to face and heart to heart connections). The lack of real work we put in to our relationships has brought the deficit of human connection and thus a world full of desperately lonely people.
“Easier & faster” are revolutionary, necessary and life saving at times. But pause. Check and see if you are moving so fast that you are missing the real beauty in life. The most beautiful things in life are usually those we work hardest for.
I’m not saying we should boycott grocery stores, Amazon prime and smart phones. (Oy. Could you imagine?) But instead consider why and how we utilize these remarkable advancements. Do we have healthy respect for the conveniences around us, or do we merely expect the ease to serve us. I fear the day the grocery store shelves are empty and I don’t know how to feed my family. Or the day the internet disappears as fast as it appeared and I have no clue how to connect with my loved ones near and far.
When was the last time I dug in the soil to plant a seed, tended it for months and then partook of the harvest? Until a century ago, all of humankind toiled for every cultivated calorie to sustain their health and wellbeing. There was no other way.
When was the last time I wrote a long letter to a loved one, applied postage and felt as if I was mailing part of my heart across the country? Until just a few decades ago, all of humankind penned their thoughts to sustain their relationships with family near and far, or traveled great distances to simply sit down and converse. There was no other way.
Food and friendships. These are just two examples of areas in our daily lives where we may or may not be putting adequate work in to receive our rewards.
I do think a great amount of work and toiling is put into exercise and education nowadays (maybe more than ever by certain demographics). But what about toiling for creative pursuits and spiritual growth? Are we sweating enough to receive bounteous blessings in these endeavors? Am I sowing, reaping, harvesting and sharing the creative abundance that He has given me? Do I ponder, wrestle, read and pray for increased spiritual knowledge He has promised to send me? As with most work, I know I do just enough to break a little sweat, and then I step away and wait for the results. This fallen earth is not the place for waiting, assuming, entitling – Rather it is the place for working, evolving, becoming.
I can boil it all down to this:
Without work, I am entitled to a Telestial existence.
WITH work, I am eligible for a Celestial eternity.
Perhaps that is why the pioneer poet, William Clayton, could pen these words in the toilsome year of 1846:
Come, come ye saints
No toil, nor labor fear
But with joy, wend your way…
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—
All is well! All is well!
Yes. All is well! And it will be well eternally if we toil to make it so.