Far More Than We Deserve

This parable of the vineyard had always held for me the mystery of sunlight shining through fog. I was sure something wonderful was there but couldn’t quite make out exactly what. I once figured that the owner of the vineyard kept retuning for more workers because he didn’t want to lose his harvest. It reminded me of working a hayfield with six of my friends till 2 am. A thunderstorm was rolling in and hay left in the field might be spoiled so we labored till the first drops of rain started falling. But the story of this man returning over and over to the town square till almost quitting time just seemed odd.

Why did he hire men even when it was almost quitting time and why pay them the same as the others? After all the guys who only worked one hour certainly weren’t producing enough to even cover their wage. But then I remembered that when the owner hired those fellows he asked why they were standing around all day and they told him ,”because no one hired us.” They had stayed because they clung to hope even as the afternoon shadows grew longer.

And isn’t that the wonderful depth of the grace of Jesus? He doesn’t come until even the final hours because he cares about hay ruined in his field or grapes left on the vine. He comes over and over looking for us. The lostness of people who no one else wants, who stand abandoned in the town square stirs God’s heart to action! So with whatever few hours we have in His field let’s work with joy, knowing that from the depths of His grace we will receive far more than we deserve on the day we stand before Him!

Silly Goose!

 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12:3

As a teen-ager I lived on a small farm for about two years. Every day I had pigs to slop, cows to milk, chickens to feed and even a couple of goats to tend. But of all the animals we had on the farm the ones I liked the least were the geese. Yes some mornings the cow could be ill- tempered, the pigs were smelly, and the chickens needed constant protection from the local raccoon but the annoying thing about geese is how they acted like they were better than any of the other animals on the farm.

photo of white goose

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Whenever I approached to feed them they would stick out their necks and hiss and flap their wings in a phony show of courage. But if I took a few steps toward them, they would turn tail and run as fast as their clumsy webbed feet could carry them.  No matter how much they hissed, flapped or ran they never really convinced anyone of their importance. In fact one of my favorite things on the fourth of July was to shoot bottle rockets close to those geese and then laugh uproariously as they hissed and honked –  (Remember I was a teen-ager!) 

But before feeling so smug about how foolish those geese were I need to ask myself about the  times when to God I must have looked a lot like those geese. He sees me put on a great show of bravery and self-importance for my family, neighbors, or church; but when faced with real danger I have often run for the hills. How amazing that God still loves me and doesn’t treat me like I sometimes treated our poor silly geese. Instead He gently corrects me and tells me to remember that my importance isn’t about being better than others. No one is better than anyone else in God’s family. We are all loved and are each given a different job to do. So let’s not act like silly geese. Yes, God has made us special –  but not better than anyone else on the farm! 

 

When Lightning Strikes

He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark.                     Job 36:32 ESV

Having worked another long day outside with temperatures flirting with one hundred degrees, we were enjoying the little bit of rain that the breeze wafted our way as we sat on the front porch. Then that wonderful stillness was interrupted by the horrible crash of a thunderbolt that landed just a few yards away on the other side of the dirt road. We sat in shock for a moment and then we started laughing in relief as the geese over in the cow pasture honked in loud and angry protest.

brown and beige wooden barn surrounded with brown grasses under thunderclouds

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The terrible thing about lightning is that it wakes us up to just how vulnerable we are. Car accidents, break-ins, doctor’s reports and family crisis hit at times when we least expect. But the hope that our scripture today gives is that God is ultimately in control. He holds the power of the lightning in His hands and He is the one who commands where it will strike.

God knows not only when and where the lightning will strike but even when each sparrow falls. He has marked His calendar for how long our life on earth is to be. So we must decide if we will honk in angry protest when thunder crashes all around or we can rejoice in God’s mercy and grace. He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die in our place so we can praise the one who will keep us safe in every storm!