“…do all your work in love.” I Corinthians 16:13b My husband often says he thinks God did some of his greatest handiwork on insects. I am beginning to agree with him. When I married a graduate student in entomology this summer, I underestimated, a bit, the degree of his passion for six-legged creatures. Afternoon excursions to hunt bugs in city parks and our refrigerator shelves stacked with glass jars containing stiff specimens has wisened me. And I’m beginning to catch a bit of insect fever myself—pointing out any stray beetles or butterflies I see as possible additions to his growing collection. Last Sunday, I even proudly stood by as he carefully flicked a metallic wood-boring beetle off the church wall into a plastic baggie before we could go in for the service.
God’s creativity seems to have been endless when he created insects. So many details are hidden under our noses. I’ve learned that many of the “bees” we see on flowers and plants are really flies disguised as their stingy relations. And there are hundreds of kinds of beetles on the ground and on plants and trees in startling shades of navy, red, orange, and black. Some beetles, a form of carabid, have long, narrow heads and long, spoon-like mouthparts that they use to get in snail shells and eat the sludgy mess. Others, like tiger beetles, stalk their prey on sandy soil and strike with blurring accuracy. From comical, minute weevils with their round, hard bodies and pointy snouts, to lacewings as delicate as their name implies—insects are marvels.
And these marvels are always busy. The Bible praises the industry of the ant in Proverbs. And it’s true—insects are always working, harvesting, preparing. They work by instinct and necessity and it is easy to be amazed at their focus and strength. Insects are always doing exactly what they were created to do. Their movements are never awkward or unsure. Insects come to life as either herbivores, carnivores, or parasites and develop as such with highly specific skills and focus. Assassin bugs, with their raptorial front legs and camouflage, are designed for one purpose. They can never be herbivores—only eat them! And a herbivore like an aphid isn’t designed to stalk and kill or parasitize anything. Their lives are spent eating. How silly it would be for someone to try to train any insect or change it into something it is not. Insects are perfectly suited to be themselves and only that. The same goes for all created things. A butterfly can’t be a wasp anymore than a cow can be a tree.
Everything was created to be what it is. Nothing more or less. God took no less care in designing His people. We’re all created in His image, and more, with specific gifts and work to do. Insects seem blessed with natural instinct to know their work. Lately, I have been wishing God would bless me with a little more instinct. And I know I am not alone. Most of my friends are also in work limbo at jobs where they know they are not long-term; or they are contemplating returning to school because they are not sure what they are supposed to be doing with their lives.
And it is not just my peers. My parents both switched jobs within the last couple of years and many of their generation continue to bounce from occupation to occupation looking for the perfect career to define themselves.
This is a difficult subject because we are so often defined by what we do. We introduce ourselves as bankers, musicians, or farmers. We enjoy talking about our occupations.
For Christians, the concept of work is more complicated because our work is also a calling to serve the Lord and others. Our daily work becomes not just who we define ourselves as, but a call to service in the Kingdom of God. Still, merging the idea of calling with work can be complicated. I heard it said once that calling is where “our passion meets God’s need.” That little saying has lodged in my heart ever since.
Without passion for our work we are not happy. Without need for our work we are not content. By combining passion and need we can, with God’s help, change lives. We should work right at the heart of things. I believe this means following your heart, your talents, and finding out what you were made for. There is need in so many areas of the world. If politics gets your heart thumping serve there. If it is doing artwork then minister with your hands. If it is in the home do your best work there.
We can glorify God in everything we do. That is a truth of the Reformed faith that I love. God is in all spheres of life so we should be too. What a marvelous truth for us. And God’s grace follows us wherever we go, but passion should also follow us to work that is not exciting or glamorous or our first choice of spending our time. Our passion should also root itself in God’s passion and God is passionate about doing all things well. He loves to say, “It is good” and He loves when we serve Him and others.
This means that I can glorify God just as much doing dishes as my husband can by studying leaf hoppers and scarab beetles. Our main work is giving glory by serving. I love the Westminster Confession’s question and answer one “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” What a beautiful confession. Our work is never without purpose or passion if we remember this. What a comfort this is to us. God created His insects with strong instincts about their work. His children may not have the same instincts, but we do have assurance that God can use us wherever we are—whether it be behind the counter at a deli or in a law office. And we have something better than instinct—we have love we can share purposefully. Insects work for a purpose and praise their creator as silent witnesses while doing it. We need to do the same, but need not be silent. Praise the Lord.
Mrs. Kristi Hummel is a graduate of Dordt College and a housewife in Edmonton, Alberta.