Sunday, December 12, 2010

Serving Faithfully and Joyfully Without Complaint

What blessing, strength, encouragement, and life we receive from those who serve the Lord faithfully and without complaint! How our hearts are touched by those whose lives demonstrate such surrender to God’s will, and whose love for the Lord is revealed in their willingness to lay down self, take up their cross, and follow Him. Below is an email from a friend whose life has been such an example to me.

An Email From A Friend October 28, 2002.
Dear Billy and Laurel,
...I've been meditating recently on a comment by FB Meyer: "There is a providence of loss, a ministry of failing and fading things, a gift of emptiness…" This has been relevant to me, obviously, in the face of our family's loss and the necessity of giving 5-6 hours a day, 7/7, en route to or at the hospital. Let me say, there is no place I'd rather be. I don't begrudge it at all. My heart is to be there. But it has been a huge pruning as far as having time, energy, strength for "ministry". And we have no idea what the future holds. It seems a strange way for Him to dispose of His servant's time and energies. I'm thinking of you and us.
Dennis Peacocke said, while he was with us in London, that we were "an expensive piece of work", indicating that the Lord has invested lots in our lives over the last 40 years. The phrase struck me, because He [the Lord] seems to be getting very little return on His investment during this season. But that is His job. I bow to His sovereignty, and wait in hope...
And I know that our friendship together, born out of years, deep love, and some fire, is inviolable. That friendship was Jesus’ goal with those the Father put with Him. And they are still with Him, surrounding Him, helping Him extend His government.

I don't have answers for our predicament at this point - and don't need them. I just need Him - and He gives Himself freely.

I look forward to talking.
Our love to you both,

The following true story stands in stark contrast to the email quoted above.
I was observing a roofing crew at work on a phone company facility. Because of the crucial nature of the equipment in this building and the absolute need to ensure no interruption of the phone service to customers, the contractor was required to have a man (the “spotter”) stand inside and inspect the ceiling underneath the roofing work area during the early morning tear-off phase of the work. The spotter’s job was to make sure there were no leaks, dust, or particles falling from the ceiling onto the equipment. His job, though very important, is relatively easy and comfortable compared to the physical labor of the men at work on the roof. Company policy requires the spotter to remain inside only during early morning tear-off and during removal of the old roofing membrane. He then returns to work on the roof with the other men as soon as the tear-off phase is completed and installation of the new membrane has begun.

On this particular job, however, the foreman kept the spotter inside the building through the entire workday. The other workers complained, thinking they were being treated unfairly and that the foreman was showing favoritism. “Why does he allow M____ to sit inside all day while we have to work, sweat, and suffer up here in the heat? Why does he not make M____ come back onto the roof when tear-off is completed, instead of remaining inside when it is not necessary for him to be there?”

A Surprising Explanation
Hearing their complaints against the foreman I went to him and asked, “Why do you allow the spotter to remain inside all day?” His answer surprised me. “I leave him in there because I don’t like him. He is lazy and he doesn’t do good work. I keep him down there because I don’t want him around me and I don’t want him up here where the work is going on.”

His response showed me how badly the working crew had misinterpreted the foreman’s actions and motives. They had completely misjudged him and his opinion of them and of the spotter. He was not honoring the man who was left in the shade, and he was not disrespecting the ones who were required to work in the hot sun. To the contrary, it was his respect for their skill and diligence that caused him to keep them in the more difficult and necessary place. He needed them on the roof because he could depend on them to do a good job. It was his displeasure with the spotter that caused the foreman to leave that worker inside in the “easier” place all day. He placed more responsibility upon and asked more of those from whom he expected more, from those he knew would do the best work.

Our Load May Represent God's Confidence In Us.
If these workers could so greatly misunderstand their boss, how much more do we in our limited knowledge misunderstand the deeper mysteries of God in the way He works in our lives?
God disciplines those He loves and He requires more from those He favors. He asks more from those upon whom He has placed a high calling and from those who have been given more. It is an honor for God to ask of you more than He asks of others.
The early Christians did not complain and say, “Why me?” when they were persecuted and beaten for Christ’s sake, but rather they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His sake. They knew they were being honored as “worthy to drink the cup” (Mark 10: 35-39). The true spiritual giants are not those who seem to glide along effortlessly in “flowery beds of ease” on a warm and balmy day. The horses who submit to the training bridle are the ones chosen to pull the kings carriage, not the ones who are left to run wild and free in the pasture. It is not a compliment when God asks nothing of you.

Why is God asking hard things of us and requiring more of us than seems fair? It may be that we need it. But also it may be associated with the high calling He has placed on our lives, a reflection of His great expectations regarding our character and potential. It may also be that He has honored us by allowing our  participation in such an important cause and great work, the depth and significance of which is known only to Him. We will not know the full ramifications of our service until we stand in His presence in the age to come.  But in any case, we should always know that He works with a view to the joy and delight He will have in bestowing rewards and blessing upon those He loves so dearly, and especially upon those who serve Him so faithfully.

Luke 12: 48. “…For everyone to whom much has been given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
Matthew 25: 23. "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'"


Beth said...

Very thought provoking. Thank you so much for faithfully sharing your insights concerning our Lord and His love, plan, and dealings with us.

Blessings to you, Laurel, and family,

Anonymous said...

That one got me! You've got me crying AGAIN!!

Anonymous said...

Good working man sermon. Keep it up.
God Bless, George M.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your roofing foreman & crew story.
It’s all so true, there is a reason for everything, although not always obvious to everyone.
Thanks for sharing,

karen said...

God's idea of a wasted life is much different than ours. He is not at all concerned with how BIG we serve Him, but how deeply we serve Him.

Billy Long said...

Thanks for the comments, those posted here and those I have received via direct email.

A.Brother said...


We've never met, but your blog posting was linked to me by a close friend of many years, Kirk Dearman.
Thanks for the good reminders in Christ. We are going through a similar "sifting" and it is this crucible that forms us into New Men and Women in Christ. All encouragement in the Lord today. Feel free to visit my blog: anytime and partake of the hard teachings and comfort of the Spirit there. It's my calling, but not easy!

Your brother,
A. Brother
(Gary Bixler)

Billy Long said...

(Here is an email from a friend I am posting anonymously. My response follows. I thought this might help others who feel the same way. --Billy

I'm trying to do this faithfully, but am beyond bewildered at the amount of pain this causes. How can something this terrible be done "faithfully"???

Billy Long said...

(My response the previous comment--Billy)

Good to hear from you, and you are in our prayers even though you don’t hear much from us.

There are so many situations for which there is no comfortable or “good” way through it. And even though we don’t complain in the sense of the rebellious attitude that is arrogant toward God as if He does not know what He is doing, yet there is the complaint that David speaks of in which he is simply being honest before God in describing the pain and distress he is in. [Read Psalm 142]. Sometimes “faithful” does not mean handling everything really well with an impressive and polished performance, but simply enduring before the Lord and hanging on like the rider in the rodeo who is close to being thrown off the horse, but who hangs on anyway. We may come out black and blue with hair a mess and all disheveled, but the Lord will be pleased that we simply “continued” and endured to the end. As Paul says, we try not to lose heart even as the outward man is perishing, hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.

I can’t imagine what you must be going through. But the Lord knows. He will give grace and strength. I’ll keep praying.
Bless you,