“Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.” (Deuteronomy 6:3, NIV)
This week I pulled off something I have been dreaming up and thinking about for months. I put together a styled wedding shoot with a very specific vision, a vision I’ve been cultivating since January. I got together the right vendors and the venue and the best collaborators I could find that I knew would want to work in harmony and not in competition. On Tuesday, despite the rain and wind and power outage in Woodinville, where we were shooting, everything was perfect.
But before Tuesday, it was crazy. I had vendors cancel on me and just like that I had no menswear and no jewelry set. I know that might seem silly to outsiders but those were things that I was counting on and were necessary to the vision. I spent hours scouring thrift stores and other shops to find the things that would pull it together. I coordinated with my friend who was working as both florist and stylist while she was backpacking through Thailand.
I worked and worked to make sure this idea of something beautiful that reflected my point of view as an artist came to fruition. I stayed up late and I cried more than a few times. It was hard work because this was just a goal I was working toward in the stolen moments of my everyday life. I worked hard on top of parenting and cooking and cleaning and my other photo work. But all of a sudden Tuesday came and as I pulled into the shoot and saw the table that was being set up I was in awe. All of this crazy work began to look like my dream. I walked into the room, smiled profusely at the beauty I was surrounded by, and immediately got to work.
Just because I had gotten to the beautiful place didn’t mean my work was done. I worked all day and now I have a ton of work to finish still. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t arrive in the place I wanted, it means that even when we arrive at our destination, work is still a necessary and noble pursuit.
God promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, two totally tasty things. The idea of such deliciousness and beauty in abundance was a great glimpse into how much God cared for his people. He wanted them to have good and lovely things. But that doesn’t mean those things aren’t work. I have never in my life milked any animal nor have I tended bees, but I know neither milk nor honey comes without consistent and vigilant work.
So often in life, we arrive at a goal or a place that we have always dreamed of and assumed that once we got there that life would be effortless. But that’s not what we were made for. We are made for work, for the pursuit of creating and cultivating good and lovely things. We were made in the image of a God who works, who creates and who loves rest but doesn’t live in the land of the lazy. God has never said that He worked hard enough and now shouldn’t have to try anymore, and as image bearers we need to remember that work is a gift from him.
Milk and honey were promised and were given, but they needed good stewards to show the world just how much abundance and beauty could be cultivated in the work of gathering them. We need to remember we might just be living in our land of milk and honey, that doesn’t make it easy but remembering it makes the work a lot sweeter.
Ali can be reached via email here.