Now, in and of itself, that may not sound all that impressive. But consider that, somehow, nearly 800 years ago, with no electricity, no diesel engines, no cranes, indeed with no modern construction machinery at all, men and women still succeeded in completing a true marvel of architectural engineering, even by today's construction standards.
With a height of 225 feet, and an additional 180 feet of spire (for a total height of 405 feet!), and a length of 442 feet, the size of this gorgeous building is simply awe-inspiring. Even more amazing is the amount of material employed: 450 tons of lead, 3,000 tons of timber, and 70,000 tons of stone! All of this was assembled over a period of 38 years, from 1220 to 1258 AD.
Still not impressed? Remember that at the time, people had no access to gunpowder, knew nothing of the inner workings of the human body, let alone the internal combustion engine, and actually thought the world was flat!
In any event, while we were taking a tour, our guide told us a story that I have never forgotten. It seems that…
A man came upon a construction site where three people were working. He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks and trying to hang on two more hours till quitting time.”
He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall to make my boss happy.”
As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he passionately toiled away, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral to the glory of Almighty God!”
I love the truth embodied in this story - especially on Labor Day weekend: our labor in this world is imbued with much more meaning if we view it as work done for God's glory!
We can see this principle demonstrated in Scripture. Solomon proffers wisdom for human laborers in the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (chapter 9, verses 9-10):
“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun - all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
Later, in his New Testament letter to the Colossians (chapter 3, verses 23-24), the Apostle Paul builds on this same theme:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
These two passages are similar, but not exactly the same; for Solomon’s’ original admonition to approach one’s labor with all human might is now taken a step further. Paul’s admonishment is for us who are believers to approach our labor with all our hearts!
The reason? Because followers of Jesus Christ are doing their work, not solely for the benefit and approval of mere human authority, but also for the Lord Jesus Christ! And indeed, the opinion of our Heavenly Master matters far more than that of any earthly boss!
So, tomorrow morning, as Labor Day weekend comes to an end and you and I return to work, let us be careful to give it our all. For, it is ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ we are serving!
STORY SOURCE: The above story was indeed related by a tour guide. That notwithstanding, this story that he told is available widely in various forms on the internet. See, for instance:
SCRIPTURE VERSE SOURCES: http://biblehub.com/niv/ecclesiastes/9.htm and http://biblehub.com/niv/colossians/3.htm.
MORE ABOUT SALISBURY CATHEDRAL CAN BE FOUND AT: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/history. (I highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity to visit the Cathedral do so. In addition to having the world’s oldest working clock and the best preserved original copy of the Magna Carta Libertatum itself, the Cathedral sits only eight miles from Stonehenge. All in all, it is quite a worthwhile visit.)