1 Cor 7:17, 23 17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
Do you ever feel like a peppercorn in Emeril’s peppermill just waiting to be shredded to little bits of yourself and then thrown into some hot skillet while Father Chef yells “BAM!” and the crowd roars with delight? Or maybe it’s seems more like a dark roasted coffee bean waiting its turn at the local Starbucks to be ground to perfection.
As the brew master tosses you and your friends into the grinder you’re reminded of your previous thought that “it can’t get any worse than this” as you roasted in some hot oven weeks earlier. Now you find yourself being ground to dust and rinsed with boiling lava just for the delight of being served up to others.
Nice lot in life eh? I’ve got to admit, it doesn’t sound like an appealing proposition as I consider the cost of laying my life down for others. It can feel a lot like a food processor on pulse – crush – off – crunch – off – crash – off – frappe – hey!
I’ve worked for the same company for 27 years now. I’m tired. I’ve served faithfully and received a really good paycheck for it with my pension on the horizon. It’s a fair contract I have with my employer and I have no complaints except – I’m tired and depleted.
Vacations don’t seem to restore anymore. Time off is spent doing stuff that I couldn’t get done while at work, or accomplishing on the weekends what the grind had simply stolen. Time off is rarely time down. Time down is tormented by thoughts of lost productivity. Where’s the balance? I struggle to find it like a puzzle piece that just doesn’t quite fit, so I pitch one.
I feel like I want to do something else, something with more umph, impact, or flair. I’m like most people who, I believe deep down, want to make a difference in this world. Unfortunately, “most people” don’t realize just how hard that truly is. It takes work, discipline, intentional effort.
With the advent of the T.V. remote, microwave oven, and cordless or cell phones, sitting on ones duff has become our natural posture. It seems the couch or bed has this magnetic force stronger than gravity itself, sucking us from feet to butt in less time than it takes to kick off our shoes.
My natural state is lazy. Emotionally depleted by the end of an easy days work, I have little energy to open mail or talk to my wife or kids. If I’m honest, I just want to escape to Dance with the Stars, or worship the American Idol. Maybe you sit and visit with The Simpson’s or take another trip to The Office.
Whatever the flavor, it is so much easier to feed my soul trash than it is to buffet my body and make my clay conform. I can sometimes find my way to the laptop and be creative in verb and verse, but often the weight of the sin of sloth is more than I can bear.
In a moment of annoyance, and sometimes clarity I write. I collect thoughts electronically and spew frustration across seven lanes of the internet superhighway. I pray. I seek wisdom on what to do and where to go next. Crickets. So I cry. I bitch and moan and flail my arms about like a Joe Pesci wise guy. I work in the yard. I sing. I nap. Then, at some point, like a bolt of lightning and clap of thunder I’m jolted from my slumber.
I offer up the sacrifice of my praise. I consider it all joy and rubbish once again. I take inventory and find the pack rats have been at work, so its time for the holy exterminator to clear the nest of the R.O.U.S. I reach for the promise of new life from His Spirit breathed into me when I am cold, distant, and lost. I inhale and get high on the narcotic of His Good News.
I witness miracles daily. Small ones like a beautiful sunrise where He welcomes me to a new day. Or the sparrows that dart to and fro in my trees; He reminds me his eye is on them, and me. I see the trees dancing in adoration of Him as the wind blows their sways of praise. A child laughs and I am reminded of childlike faith that stresses not. I want that joy back!
I begin to count my blessings and I am encouraged by the thought of legs that work, eyes that see, ears that hear, a tongue that speaks, and a mind that thinks. I give thanks for arms that can hold my wife and kids, and be raised in honor, joy, and adoration of the One and only. I count those blessings over and over and over. I realize for the most part I suck. Then I set that mind on Him like a boundary stone in ancient Israel. I take opposing thoughts captive and punish their disobedience into submission of the reality of the Savior.
The breath of the life of His Presence that makes all things new courses through my lungs and oxygenates my spirit with his “Zoë.” Why can’t I get this right yet? I praise and He inhabits. In His Presence is fullness of Joy. His joy is my strength. Feeble knees strengthened to bow and humbled to rise with the demise of my pride.
So I take hold of that for which He took hold of me and I welcome it – the cross. I hold it in my arms and dance as if it were my lover slow dancing in a warm embrace. I’m reminded why I love to worship: He is worthy.
Instead of letting life turning me into ground salt of the earth, I’m trusting in Him to help build me up in my most holy faith. I look again to Him when melancholy comes calling. She’s a hateful and unforgiving wench but justice and mercy meet with me at the cross.
I take another bite of life knowing the seasoning is perfect. I’m satisfied because it tastes great and is more filling when I walk with Him. Though I’m not excited about the place I am today, I know it’s a season and I know He is teaching me to be content in Him; it is great gain.
Phil 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.