Chapter 13 of AWE: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, or Do by David Paul Tripp
A Review by Pastor Aaron Adame
Work and Epilogue
“Awe is a longing.” This is how Tripp puts the pursuit of awe we have been considering in this book in his epilogue on page 184. His opening quote from C.S. Lewis is one I have personally considered a great many times: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Of course, Lewis makes this statement under the context of thinking eternally versus temporally. Because the fact is, we were made for this world. When God made the heavens and the earth and everything in it, including people, He made it all good. Nothing God made was purposeless. It’s true that God has not made us for this life and world only. He has called us to set our minds on things above, where Christ is seated. He has called us to seek first the kingdom and His righteousness before the things of this world. Things get out of whack when we seek in this world and in this life what can only be found in relationship with God and in eternity.
I thought this would be a good way to start talking about the final chapter, which was on the topic of work. Unfortunately, like many other things in our lives, people have an unhealthy and unbiblical relationship with work. Either they loathe work and expect handouts, or they love work to such a degree that they neglect their other priorities, like family and church.
But I think it’s important to state that God made us to work and to enjoy work. In the Garden of Eden, before the Fall and the infectious disease called sin entered the picture, God called the first people He created in His image to work. Just as people being made in the image of God, and their sexuality as male and female, framed their identity, so did their capacity to work. God works, therefore, as His image bearers, we work! It’s as simple as that.
But when sin entered the picture, all human relationships were shattered—our relationship with God (hiding and blaming), with ourselves (guilt and shame), with others (hate, anger and bitterness), and work (identity, laziness, and workaholism).
As Tripp pointed out, because God created us with a longing to work, we also have an awe for work, which is mostly good. However, because of sin and sinfulness, that good relationship with work that God desires for us, and we desire for ourselves, is fractured and needs to be redeemed.
One of the main purposes of going through this book is not to get a quick fix for all the struggles we have in the various areas of our lives but to get to the heart of the conversation as to where the source of those problems come from (our hearts) and how God (our Redeemer) is making all things right and new through Christ and faith in the gospel.
When you come to faith in Jesus, He begins the process of changing you (sanctification). The word for what He does is reconciliation (2 Cor 5). God, through Christ, reconciles people back to right relationships (God, self, others, world, and work). Most people do really well in some of these areas and poorly in other. For example, perhaps you are someone who has a poor image of yourself—perhaps you tend toward being an Eeyore. But when you became a Christian, the understanding that God loves and values you has begun to change that downer self-image. Again, for some people, there are areas that have a quick and obvious fix.
But work tends to be one of those areas that people tend to struggle surrendering over to the Lordship of Jesus. They struggle because work is not only associated with our identity (we often find purpose and meaning in what we do and accomplish), but it’s also associated with provision. We work to buy food and pay bills and buy what we want and need. We work to attain or maintain a certain lifestyle. And this is really hard for some people to let God have lordship over. And whether someone makes a lot of money or little money, eventually, they get to a place where they are living the life they want to live.
But the key I have discovered is the same key the apostle Paul discovered, and that key is being content. Because the fact of the matter is, we can’t control our work, the economy, those we work for and those who work for us. But what we can do is trust in the God who has ultimate control, and who is the ultimate provider, and who is always working on our behalf!
1. If there was one word you could use, how would you personally describe your relationship to work and working? Ok, now ask someone close to you how they would describe your relationship to work and working and see if there are any variables.
2. Why do you think people, when first meeting someone, often shift the conversation with, “so what do you do for work?”
3. If you could have your dream job, what would it be and why? What do you think that reveals about your personal longings for awe?
4. Is your work getting in the way of your other relationships, church, family, self? If so, what steps can you take to recalibrate this?
5. How has God changed or shaped the way that you view your job and working in general?
6. What would you say to someone else who wants to quit their job because their boss is hard?
Review by Pastor Aaron Adame