A Theology for “All Things”
I’ve often found that God first teaches me something about my work (such a practical place to learn) and then kneads that lesson throughout my life. Here’s an example: Through seeking wisdom from scripture about the role of work in the kingdom of God, I first noticed the repeated use of the phrase “all things.” Scripture shows us that Christ is the Lord who literally “made all things” (Isaiah 44:24-25), claims “all things” as his servants (Psalm 119:90-91), and holds “all things” together (Colossians 1:17).
While God worked in my heart to plant a true and full understanding of just how broadly the gospel is at work in the world, I came across this poem by George Herbert, a seventeenth century lyricist. I immediately recognized that same refrain in the second line, “in all things Thee to see.” I share Herbert’s poem below in the hope that it does for you what poetry often does for me: help me see the world, and in this case my work, a bit differently than before.
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.
Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.
A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.
All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture—”for Thy sake”—
Will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.