While attending Bible college, my friend Charlie and I worked for a furniture store. We often made deliveries accompanied by an interior decorator who talked with the people who had purchased the furniture while we brought it from the truck into the house. Sometimes we had to carry the furniture up several flights of stairs in an apartment building. Charlie and I often wished we had the decorator’s job instead of ours!
During Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, three clans from the priestly tribe of Levi—the Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites—were assigned the job of transporting the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). They put it up, took it down, and carried it to the next place, then repeated the process again and again. Their job description was simple: “Carry the things assigned to you” (see Num. 4:32).
I wonder if these “custodians” ever envied the “clergymen” who offered sacrifices and incense using the holy articles in the sanctuary (vv. 4-5,15). That job must have looked much easier and more prestigious. But both assignments were important and came from the Lord.
Many times we don’t get to select the work we do. But all of us can choose our attitude toward the tasks we’re given. How we do the job God gives us is the measure of our service to Him.
Traffic was bad and everyone was cranky on that hot afternoon. I noticed a car with two young men waiting to enter traffic from a fast-food restaurant driveway. I thought it was nice when the driver ahead of me let them in.
Packing groceries into the trunk of my car, I glanced at the vehicle next to me. Through the back window, I could see baskets full of bright red tomatoes—shiny, plump, and better looking than any I had seen in the store. When the car’s owner appeared seconds later, I said, “What great looking tomatoes!” She replied, “I had a good crop this year. Would you like some?” Surprised by her willingness to share, I gladly accepted. She gave me several free tomatoes to take home—they tasted as good as they looked!
One problem with the English word meek is that it rhymes with weak, and people have linked the two words together for years. A popular dictionary offers a secondary definition of meek as “too submissive; easily imposed on; spineless; spiritless.” This causes some people to question why Jesus would say, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason,” the saying goes. The ability to listen is an essential life skill. Counselors tell us to listen to each other. Spiritual leaders tell us to listen to God. But hardly anyone says, “Listen to yourself.” I’m not suggesting that we have an inner voice that always knows the right thing to say. Nor am I saying we should listen to ourselves instead of to God and others. I’m suggesting that we need to listen to ourselves in order to learn how others might be receiving our words.
At the First Battle of the Marne during World War I, French lieutenant general Ferdinand Foch sent out this communiqué: “My center is giving way, my right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking.” His willingness to see hope in a tough situation eventually led to victory for his troops.
Eunice McGarrahan gave an inspiring talk on Christian discipleship in which she said, “A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing. A uniform, on the other hand, reminds you that you are, in fact, what you wear.”
As our plane began its descent, the flight attendant read the long list of arrival information as if she were reading it for the thousandth time that day—no emotion or interest as she droned on about our impending arrival. Then, with the same tired, disinterested voice, she finished by saying, “Have a wonderful day.” The dryness of her tone contrasted with her words. She said “wonderful” but in a manner completely absent of any sense of wonder.
After all these years, I still don’t fully understand prayer. It’s something of a mystery to me. But one thing I know: When we’re in desperate need, prayer springs naturally from our lips and from the deepest level of our hearts.