A ten-year employee of my local Kroger grocery store, I am one of the lucky ones in life who loves her job. But who also doesn't love a break in the work schedule and the gift of some unexpected free time? When my doctor told me initially to expect to be off for six to eight weeks following surgery, my eyes popped at the thought of all I might accomplish in that time period. The need for additional surgery extended my sick leave, and to date it's been three months and more since I last clocked in for a shift.
Through it all, Kroger has been terrific to me. Processing paperwork to arrange for a leave of absence from work and to set up short-term disability payments was surprisingly simple; a few phone calls and the matter was done. Paychecks came in the mail, my medical insurance started paying my bills, and my boss and coworkers checked in with me regularly to see how I was doing and to offer their support. When my manager assured me that they would hold my job for me despite the delays to my return-to-work date, I was able to focus on recovery and leave the worry over my employment status behind.
While I have enjoyed the time off immensely, increasingly in recent weeks I have felt that I really need to get back to work. Three forces pushing me in that direction are gratitude, a sense of indebtedness, and the simple enjoyment of the job itself. This surprising encounter with the medical profession has really caused me to appreciate how much the company offers in the way of help and assistance in a time of need. I hadn't realized how good our benefits package was until I had occasion to use it. Besides the very real need to cover the insurance premiums I missed while on disability, I am anxious to get back and offer my best in return for the company's giving me theirs. And I have sorely missed the camaraderie of my coworkers and the kindness of the customers I serve on a daily basis while I've been away. It's simply time to go back.
There have likewise been times through the years when I've been sidelined in my service to God and the spiritual community for various reasons. A difficult situation in one church required a period of rest and healing before investing again in another. A move to a new house of worship necessitated the establishment of new contacts with pastors and church leaders before ministry opportunities could open up. And there have been simple “times of refreshing” as described in the Bible where I just needed to take a break and be ministered to myself so I would have something to offer to somebody else.
The same three forces have always propelled me back into the spiritual work force, however. Overwhelming gratitude to God for all He has done for me through the years is chief among those. He has come through for me in ways I couldn't have imagined before coming to know Him, and daily I grow in gratitude for His kindness and compassion. I am also very aware, however, that my life is no longer my own. I now willingly serve the One who paid the price for my salvation and all the resultant joy of that experience. And frankly, there is no greater joy than discovering and operating in my God-given-gifts to those I meet on a daily basis; working for God is simply great fun.
Later this morning I go to the doctor, and today I expect him to finally sign the paper releasing me to go back to work. Now physically as well as spiritually, I'm ready to buckle down and get back on the job.
“...aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands...”
(1 Thessalonians 4:11 NKJV)