Panda Express and My Discovery of “Work”

“Is this for here or to go?” asked the rather jolly Panda Express employee who was getting my lunch ready for me.

“It’s for to go,” I replied. I’ve been using that “for to go” phrase for several years now — most fast food workers seem to get a kick out of it. Actually, this particular lady seemed to get a kick out of everything. Maybe that’s why she’s working at Panda Express, because, you know, Kung Fu Panda. But I digress.

“Are you going to work today?” A simple enough question, but it made me think. Was I going to work today? When I think of “going to work” I imagine wearing uncomfortable formal clothes and sitting at a desk in front of a computer, glancing at the clock from time to time and wondering how it could be possible that only five seconds had passed since the last time I looked. Either that or going out in the blazing summer humidity and getting a nice golden-brown crust of dirt around my sunburned skin from ten hours of hard manual labor.

“Um, well, sort of,” I mumbled.

Are you going to work today, Daniel?” a voice questioned from behind me. Apparently, my boss had walked in from the parking lot while I was ordering. His question quickly helped me find some clarity concerning my answer.

“Yes, I am going to work today,” I informed the Panda Express lady, now with much more conviction. “But I’m not sitting in a cubicle, if that’s what you mean.”

She didn’t ask for further clarification, and I didn’t give it. However, the short interaction did make me think about how thankful I am for my job. God has blessed me with the opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for years but wasn’t sure I would ever have a shot at. I get to travel around and perform concerts, and I even get paid to do it. Sure, we do our fair share of manual labor moving heavy equipment, and yes, I do look at the clock in the car to see how much longer we have to drive. But at the end of the day, I am playing music, giving a good gift to the people in the audience and my friends onstage as we delight in its mysterious power to enliven, inspire, and encourage, and as we celebrate the goodness of God together. So maybe I am going to work as I type this, sitting in the car on the way to a concert venue.

But when it comes down to it, my job is music, and I love my job.

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