Welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner.
My friend, may I ask you a question today? How useful are to to God? Are there certain skills that you have that merit your ministry? Or, does God simply not care about your innate talents or abilities? Perhaps he is looking for something to work with that is emptied completely of self?
My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day.
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When I was in college I took a part-time job with a grocery store in the area. The ad in the newspaper said something to the effect, “Stockers needed–no experience necessary. Will train–call manager at . . .” I was 18 at the time and lacked any kind of work experience beyond yard clean-up and washing dishes. I knew that stockers were paid fairly well, several dollars over minimum wage, so I called the store. The store transferred me to Vern, the store manager. I asked him if I should come in for an interview, and he told me that an interview wouldn’t be necessary. “You have two arms, two hands and two feet? That will do.” I reported to work the next day, along with several other stockers, to the stock break room at the crack of dawn. Vern, a big guy, was seated at one of the break tables looking all the part of the king of the store. He handed each of us a jacket and a labeling gun and told us to sit and listen. Vern’s message was short. “None of you are experienced. You don’t know the difference between a pallet jack and cardboard compactor. Essentially, you’re useless. That’s what I need. In the next hour I will tell you what you need to know and the rest will happen as you go along.”
Finding out that I was useless was sobering. I had put together a basic resume thinking it might be of use. Vern didn’t care about my piece of paper. He just wanted raw recruits to stock grocery shelves. After following him around for a while, aisle after aisle, we got the basic idea. I worked there for six years as part of a team of Vern’s stockers.
Here’s a story. “When Irving S. Olds was chairman of the U.S. Steel Corporation, he arrived for a stockholders’ meeting and was confronted by a woman who asked, ‘Exactly who are you and what do you do?’ Without batting an eye, Olds replied, ‘I am your chairman. Of course, you know the duties of a chairman–that’s someone who is roughly the equivalent of parsley on a platter of fish.’” (Bits and Pieces, June 27, 1991, p.7.)
When Jesus chose his disciples he knew what he was doing, although that was probably not obvious to others, especially his enemies. These were fisherman for the most part. Their lives had centered on nets, boats and fish. There ability to teach and preach was at best limited. Yet Jesus called them to his team of potential preachers and teachers. Similarly, as I became a member of Vern’s stocking team, void of skills and knowledge, I had the potential to be filled. Vern had been in the business of managing grocery stores for several decades, so he was a good teacher. I had no natural ability to do the work, but Vern was confident he could change that with some training, observation and a lot of experience. It’s no different for you and I when it comes to doing God’s heavenly stocking work here on earth. He calls us to serve him and be disciples worthy of his name. Starting with a “useless” Christian, he molds and shapes us into a team player. Starting with a “useless” Christian, he molds and shapes us into a team player. He prefers, therefore, a Christian emptied of pride and vanity at the start, since its important that there’s room for his generous teaching. We’re like parsley; nice to look at but of little use since the main course is more important than the garnish.
We pray. Thank you Lord for giving each of us an opportunity to work in your vineyard, to be a disciple worthy of the name of Jesus Christ. Forgive us when become fixed on our own talents and skills, thinking that you have need of these. May we always remember that out utmost is dependent upon your highest and not our own. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34) This Passing Day.
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