My friend, may I ask you a question today? Do you know what it feels like passing through life experiencing what it feels like to love others more than yourself. Every time you come face to face with people lesser than yourself where do you want to be?
My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner.
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I recently picked up fly fishing, and at sixty-six I finally crossed the line of longing–to doing. My son Dan and I like to go on a road trip once a year and we ended up camping in the midst of three trout streams. Knowing our destination, we stopped at a Sporting Goods store along the way and invested in fly fishing gear. I had received a rod and vest as gifts months ago but didn’t have the reel, line, leaders or flies. Walking into the fishing gear part of the store I entered as a complete neophyte. I really had no idea as to line strength, leader test, reel drag or fly selection. Fortunately for me the elderly clerk at the desk knew fly fishing like the back of his hand and was able to ask a few questions and make suggestions as to what I should purchase. He really shopped for me. He asked about the type of fish we were after, where and how often. He ascertained my low level of knowledge, yet spoke to me as a fisherman and not some rookie know-nothing. In the end he set up the reel with line and leader and personally selected a small assortment of flies. When finished I thanked him for his help profusely but he became self-deprecating. “I really didn’t do much, did I? I just helped.” he demurred. He said this sincerely and I believed him. He truly felt he had done nothing special. My praise puzzled him and he didn’t soak it up.
I don’t think that this sales clerk was born with this level of humility; he gained it as he passed through life experiencing what it feels like to love others more than oneself. In that sense he retained a sense of personal poverty that manifested itself every time he came face to face with customers like me who placed themselves lower than himself. It is a great gift.
Here’s a story. The door of life is a door of mystery. It becomes slightly shorter than the one who wishes to enter it. And thus only he who bows in humility can cross its threshold. The Handbook of Magazine Article Writing contains this illustration by Philip Barry Osborne; “Alex Haley, the author of Roots, has a picture in his office, showing a turtle sitting atop a fence. The picture is there to remind him of a lesson he learned long ago: ‘If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help.’ “Says Alex, ‘Any time I start thinking, WOW, ISN'T THIS MARVELOUS WHAT I'VE DONE! I look at that picture and remember how this turtle–me–got up on that post.’” (Sandy Reynolds.)
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:3. “Blessed are the poor spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” What is Jesus saying here? Is he talking about weak people too timid to give their opinions or walk out on the stage of life to give something of themselves? No. This isn’t the sort of spiritual poverty he’s speaking of here. Rather, it’s as Oswald Chambers has put it, “The unaffected loveliness of the commonplace.” It’s the feeling I got when I witnessed how naturally and easily that sales clerk abided my lack of knowing and turned it into a shopping experience that left me satisfied that I knew something when I walked out of the store. That clerk was my turtle on a post. As I watched him gently wind that line on the reel and then gingerly tie the leader knot, I knew that his ability to serve me was a gift. He didn’t achieve humility, he reached it through a giving. Blessed are the poor in spirit. These are the people we ought to strive to be–each a turtle on a post.
We pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for showering your grace upon us in a way that causes us to reflect it to others through our gentle and humble spirits. Forgive us, Lord, when we forget where this gift comes from and think even if but for a moment it is of our working. Help us to achieve this spiritual poverty daily in our lives. 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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