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The Works of Our Hands: Why Satisfaction Matters
Work came before the fall.

Ever thought of that? Before sin entered the world, and God punished Adam and Eve, he had already assigned them work. They were to care for the garden, and watch over the animals. They had things to do.

Work was not punishment. There is something intrinsically good about "the works of our hands".
Throughout the Bible, one of the blessings God promises His children is that one day they will get to "enjoy the fields they have planted" and "live in the houses they built". Too often, they would plant and someone else would eat it, or build and someone else would take it. But it is a blessing to be able to enjoy something that we produced ourselves.

Do we forget that? I think the problem is that our "work" has become so far removed from our "hands", in some ways, that we miss the satisfaction that comes in completing something. When you work all day, outside of the house, in meetings or in strategy sessions, you are accomplishing something. But it's a different feeling than when you garden and you actually see something grow, or when you build something in a carpentry shop or when you knit.

I was thinking about this last night when I finished another sweater. Here's a not very good picture, but see what you think:

I was using up all kinds of yarn I have, so I decided to a striped sweater. It's made with about 25 different yarns, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It looks better with a long shirt on underneath, but it's a warm sweater and it's hot out today, so I just took the picture with that. I probably won't wear it until the winter.

But on to the point at hand. There is something really satisfying about accomplishing something with your hands, of producing something with your own effort. We feel it when we give a room a thorough cleaning, or when we make a scrumptious meal, or when we plant a garden. We feel it when we needlepoint, or scrapbook, or woodwork.

And I think there's a reason for that. God is a creative God and He is an orderly God. In nature, the law of entropy tells us that things go from a state of order to state of increasing disorder. It's impossible for it to go the other way. And so when we intervene, and create order out of disorder, we're participating in God's creation, in a way (I don't mean to be blasphemous, but you know what I mean, right?). When we take a disordered room and clean it, we're actually doing a godly thing. When we take different bits of yarn and create something useful out of it, we're participating in a godly endeavour.

But here's the problem: all these godly endeavours are slowly being drowned out in our society. A century ago, when most people had the experience of living on a farm, they knew what it was to work the land. I don't mean to glorify that life, but I do think working with the soil teaches you something that working on a computer doesn't.

They also made their own clothes, and cooked from scratch all the time. We don't.

Even our hobbies are increasingly becoming technified. We watch TV, blog (!), surf the internet, or play videogames. These things are all fun, but what do you have to show for it later? Maybe one of the reasons we increasingly feel dissatisfied with life, and yearn for a vacation, is because we don't get the true satisfaction that comes from doing something with our hands enough.

Maybe if we took more time during the day to turn off the computer and the TV and pick up a crochet hook while we listen to music, or talk to our kids, or if we ventured outside and weeded a garden bed while talking to Jesus, we'd feel better about our lives and we'd have less of a need to escape.

Modern life is both a blessing and a curse. All that we have is a blessing. The ease with which we can meet our basic needs is such a relief compared to what the most of the world lives like today, or what our own culture lived like a century and a half ago. But it's a curse, too, because it takes us that step away from the works of our hands.

So let me encourage you today: take up a hobby. Create something. Work with your hands. It doesn't even have to be good; just do something! It gets you in touch with God's creativity, I think, and it lends a rhythm and a beauty to our lives.

What do you like to do? What relaxes you? Have you ever had that experience of feeling dissatisfied, largely because you haven't been creative or productive with your hands for a while? Tell me about it, because I'm still working out my thoughts on the subject!

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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At 2:02 PM , Anonymous Burning Bushes said…

I've been drawing coloring books for my little girl recently. I just finished one that helps her learn to count and learn about Christ at the same time. It felt great to finish the drawings and pull it all together. You can look at it here:


At 3:33 PM , Blogger Koningskind said…

I felt so dissatisfied of 'only' cleaning the house and not seeing any lasting effect of it when I read my Bible and stumbled on the part of the tabernacle being build. Reading chapter after chapter full of God's owen creative and precise design of the place where He would live among His people made it so clear for me that being creative is a mission that He planned for my life.
It was a relief to read this chapters and to know that it is good in God's eyes to use the creative skills He has given me.
Now I feel much more confident when I am putting my sewingmachine on the table to make a quilt, clothes or a purs. I have much more fun when I am beading, stitching, embroidering and gardening because I know He gave me these skills because me using them would honour His name.


At 11:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I agree with you completely. It's a great way to look at it. I'm always reminding my kids, when they grumble about work that needs to be done around the house. That there was work before the fall. The first time I told them they, they just couldn't believe it. It's something we all need to remember. :)


At 9:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I can relate to that. This past week I was at home from my day job, recovering because I was sick. During this time I was able to do some scrapbooking and weed pulling. I did get the "feeling" that you described. I was also able to return to work, feeling refreshed and with a feeling of accomplishment, that things around the house were also getting done "by the work of my hands."

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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