Honeybees don’t know it but they actually work for us.
Honeybees are some of the busiest creatures in the kingdom. The drones spend their short lives seeking out incredibly small quantities of nectar to bring back to the hive, collecting this nectar from dozens of flowers every day. The sweet result of their work is honey. Hives produce enough honey for themselves and plenty to share with us, too. Every drop of honey reminds us how sweet it is when each individual works for the good of all.
But bees do a lot more than produce honey. As the bee probes for nectar in each flower, she also picks up and leaves behind trace amounts of pollen. By completing the all-important task of pollination, the bee gives us so much more than honey. She gives us a stunning variety of flowers and fruits that are pleasing to the eye and good to eat.
I doubt that bees need cheering up the way I do. They seem like such industrious creatures, like they find joy in doing their work and never question their purpose in life. I think a bee might be pretty depressed if you told her she actually only produces about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime.
As a stay-at-home mom, I am all too aware of how little I contribute to the world on a daily basis. I look at my house at the end of the day and think “I’ve been so busy… why do I have so little to show for it?”
And that’s when I need to remember the flowers.
Imagine, if you will, a discouraged bee. She wonders why each flower is so stingy, why she needs to fly to so many of them just to make a drop of honey. She realizes her meager contribution of honey hardly makes a difference to her hive.
But give her the eyes of a human being and you could show her the glory of the flower garden she pollinated. “It’s not just the honey,” you could tell her. “Your legacy is so much more beautiful than you realized!”
Can you imagine how stunning it would be see the flowers that way for the first time? To see a bouquet and a feast where before you’d seen only a chore? I wonder how many of the planet’s animals depend on food produced by the dutiful honeybee. She’s more generous than she realizes. Praise God she never goes on strike!
Now imagine your work this way. Yes, keep your eyes on the tasks–laundry, dishes, diapers (repeat)–but imagine that there is an invisible dust of eternity you carry from task to task. As you do your work joyfully, or at least willingly, you are serving the people in your family.
Now close your eyes and try to imagine the invisible work you are doing. While you fold clothes, you are caring for your kids. While you make dinner, you are serving your spouse. While you do the hard and boring work of keeping your family organized, you are being generous and patient and persistent and NONE of these things is wasted. These fruits of the spirit only look invisible here on earth. What you’re doing is called love and love is a real and living thing that grows in eternity.
Some day you’re going to see your life from the other side.
You’re going to get to heaven and you’re going to have the whole world flipped upside down and realize you were just a seed pushing through dirt while the real beauty of your work was blooming somewhere else.
You’re going to get to heaven and you’re going to grow large enough to see the garden you pollinated.
It’s not that your work on earth didn’t count. It’s not that this work is all disposable. No, it’s that every single tangible thing you do has an eternal echo somewhere else. Every gesture counts. Every act of love and sacrifice is seen. Imagine that every invisible attitude here is a visible thing there, that selflessness becomes sapphire, that goodness turns to gold.
I’m just guessing. I don’t know what it all accumulates into or how, but I know it accumulates. I know in eternity we’re going to see our life’s work differently than we see it now. I know that the troubles that weigh us down here are considered “light and momentary” on a heavenly scale. I know that these things are achieving for us a “glory that outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Glory has a weight in heaven. That means it is a tangible, physical thing in heaven even if we can’t see it here.
For those who drew attention to their good works on earth, who sought credit, who “practiced their righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them,” God says “You have received your reward.” Fine. Don’t be like them. Don’t seek glory for your efforts now. It’s too short-lived a reward.
For those who do their work quietly, in the secret unseen places, know this: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
I fall short of this ideal too often. I point out how hard I’m working, whine about being unappreciated, demand my dues. It’s my prayer to learn to work like a honeybee. I’d like to know what it’s like to be lost in my work and feel satisfied at the end of the day that I’d done my part. I’d like to do the work that presents itself each day with love, knowing that everything I do is dusted with the potential for eternity.