(this is a recurring series on the fifty events that shaped the course of my life and the person i’ve become along the way. it was supposed to occur weekly, but somewhere along the way, i got knocked off course. welcome to my world…and my therapy.)
this is not so much an event, but a person wrapped in a daily event over the course of four years. make sense?
when i was just out of high school, i went to work for my dad. he was a construction superintendent and he employed me as a laborer…making about $5.50 an hour (which was striking it rich for me) shoveling cement, carrying lumber, and being a general gopher for the tradesmen at work on my dad’s job.
this was my summer job for four years (along with an entire semester when i transferred colleges and couldn’t get the classes i needed).
my dad placed me under the care of an old guy who had been his trusted laborer and loyal co-worker for over 25 years. he was a sixty-something energizer bunny…5’4″, 130lbs of texas grit. “tex” had migrated to socal years earlier because of the woman he married, but the texas homeland had never left him.
wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, plaid shirt, a cowboy hat, radically bowed legs (from years of riding horses in his youth), and a plug of rankest, most pungent tobacco known to mankind that he would slice, chew and spit all day long. yeah…this was my mentor.
if it had something…anything…to do with construction, he knew how to use it, fix it, ride it, wield it, build it or clean it. and since i was his young protege’, he taught ME how to do all those things, also. drive a forklift, use a jackhammer, shovel cement without getting tired, carry a stack of eight 2×4’s on your shoulder, roll up a 200ft heavy-duty extension cord…you name it, he taught me how to do it.
but all of those lessons in construction were nothing compared to what he taught me about contentment.
truth is, i really didn’t like being a construction laborer at all. getting up a 5am…lifting…sweating…hours of mindless sweeping or shoveling…day after day after day of repetitive labor…too tired to do anything at night…living for the weekend. you name it and i didn’t like it.
i lived discontent every day. but not “tex”. he got to work 45 minutes early every day…opening storage boxes…unrolling electrical cords…laying out tools…surveying the previous day’s work for any mistakes or problems before the “professionals” arrived for work at 6:30.
he was wide awake with a smile on his face every morning. he whistled or sang all day long. he lived to play practical jokes. he never had to be told what to do. he never stood around. he never wasted time. he always told me it would be like stealing from dad, if he ever cheated on the time clock.
and he was the picture of contentment.
this amazing virtue the apostle paul teaches in philippians 4…this elusive attribute of maturity and stability…this amazing characteristic of inner depth and satisfaction that is never, ever dependent on whatever life-situation we find ourselves in…was something that “tex” seemed to possess, while i floundered in self-centered discontent.
i was too young, dumb and immature to have ever recognized this bow-legged gift that god gave to me 40 years ago. i wish i could tell him “thanks” and show him what a difference he made in my life when i wasn’t looking and he was too busy being content to notice.
are you restless? are you discontent with your life? are you so impatient or unhappy with your present circumstances that you are failing to see the amazing possibilities that god is placing right in front of you?
maybe you should stop pursuing and start possessing.