We spent the weekend, like usual, at Covenant Pines Bible Camp. Over Memorial Day weekend they have a Work & Worship camp where families and individuals go and help get the camp ready for summer while having a lot of fun. While many churches go from the Twin Cities area, our church kind of makes it our church retreat.
I had attended a similar camp with my family growing up in Iowa. It was a good memory for me. So before we even attended our church, we were going to Work & Worship. It's where we met our church, actually.
The Benedictine monks use the phrase "ora et labora" to describe their calling. It's how our church refers to the weekend. It means to pray and to work. Work and worship.
Our pastoral associate spoke on Sunday morning at camp. She used Psalm 127 as her text.
Unless the Lord builds the house, / the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, / the guards stand watch in vain.In vain you rise early / and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—/ for he grants sleep to those he loves.Children are a heritage from the Lord, / offspring a reward from him.Like arrows in the hands of a warrior / are children born in one’s youth.Blessed is the man / whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame / when they contend with their opponents in court.
She reminded us that God is at work. No matter where we're at. Whether we're working at a Bible Camp or at a gas station. If we're not working alongside God, that work doesn't matter.
Then the Psalm switches to talking about children. An odd transition. Maybe. I wonder if it's not getting at the importance of viewing our parenting as worthwhile work. That if we see where God is at work in our children's lives and join in, we will find rich blessings.
(Now, I know the church unfortunately often elevates marriage and families and disregards singleness which Paul lauds as the higher calling, but I don't think this Psalm intends to diminish being single. I think the children thing is just an example. Possibly. Maybe it's not even related. But no matter what your relational status, God wants to you to rely fully upon Him and not your own efforts.)
My oldest son wanted to paint this weekend at camp. So we found a job painting. It turned out to be inside, instead of out--which was maybe okay since it turned out to be really hot, and we probably would have ended up with bad sunburns. He took a few breaks, but worked alongside me most of the day. My younger son joined for a short time, too.
For some reason I can't always get them to work with me at home. But at camp they're much more willing. It was good to get to talk with them as we worked. It wasn't necessarily deep conversation, but it was getting to know them more. In the afternoon, the oldest and I went out in the woods behind the building we were painting and took a peanut break--just sitting and eating some peanuts together.
On Sunday there was a lot of free time. Both the boys wanted to try a new activity called "crate stacking." You simply stack milk crates as high as you can while standing on top of them. I was proud of my oldest for wanting to try it. He doesn't often want to try new things--especially activities with a potential for failure. But he did it and did great.
One of the hard parts of parenting is that you never know how your kids will turn out. No matter how much you invest in them, they're still independent souls who will make their own decisions one day. They might not always be the right decisions, either.
We can only trust that by investing in where God is at work in our children that He will build the house.