God’s work is bringing us to eternal life, or in other words, fulfillment of our complete potential; elevation to a higher existence. (See, for example, Moses 1:35).
When we dedicate – consecrate – our whole selves to Him, we take on this work. And it’s an involved, intensive work: Him working with us, and us working with Him. This is the covenant in practice. Ongoing, repeated work to change us into the beings God knows we can become.
I see an example of this in the work I do with my tutoring students. They’ve agreed to work with me because they need help – improvement in skills or organisation – in order to achieve better results. I know that if they take the steps I encourage them to, they’ll master a skill or improve their result in a particular area. But they often don’t take the steps, because of motivation, forgetfulness, or habit. Just like us and following the invitations of God to become better. It’s frustrating for me, because we seem to keep going around in the same circle – this is the gap that exists; this is what they need to do to close it; they don’t consistently do it; we return to the same thing they need to do.
Everything in our lives is in the service of this – growing into eternal life. Becoming these beings of perfection and beauty. All the apparent goals of our mortal existence – gaining promotions in a job, being accepted by groups of peers, being recognised for what we do, achieving financial independence, learning anything for any reason – are all sub-goals of the real one. And if they don’t lead there, they’re distractions, leading us away from the only goal that actually matters. Everything needs to be in the service of the Lord. Because that is in the service of eternal life – for us and for others. That is His work.
Everything in our lives either leads us closer to or further away from this goal. It doesn’t matter what experience you or I have – whether you marry and have children or not, whether you’re the president of a big company or struggle for money, whether you develop a chronic illness or have continual good health; any of these things can be the material which develops the attributes of godliness in us.
Relating this to an area of my life, the question is not, then, whether I’m married – by a certain age, or at all in this life (really hopefully not going to be the thing) – or have gotten to be a parent (which I would have loved to), but, am I moving towards God? Am I becoming more like Him? Are my experiences leading me there – am I allowing them or using them to lead me there?
If the answer is ‘yes’, then I’m succeeding – gloriously.
It’s not about the outward appearance, but the inner state of my heart and the direction of my soul. Like the widow who cast in all that she had to the treasury, it’s the effect of my offering on my heart that matters, not the apparent size of the offering. Using the example above, someone else’s offering will include the sacrifices of being a parent and spouse. Mine will include the sacrifices of living without a spouse or children, and of fending for myself. Their rewards will include the love of a spouse and children, seeing their growth, and the development that comes with marriage and parenthood. Mine will include the joy of a deep and vibrant personal relationship to God, the strength, skills and resilience that come from fending for myself, and increasing wisdom and perspective.
Dedicating ourselves to God’s work, then, involves sacrifice – of our own earthly, natural, un-refined desires – and consecration – of all our experiences, in the service of God’s intensive work to save us. How much more joyful it is than living for ourselves and only earthly goals instead.