I imagine the scene as something right out of the movie The Sound of Music. I’m talking about the scene with the children laughing and hanging from trees along the roadside. Truly, this is what my children confessed to doing, and they were proud of why they were doing it. They were shooting rubber bands at our mailman! I got there a little too late to actually catch them hanging from the trees and shooting at him, but the evidence lay all around the road and the base of the trees. Why would my children disrespect our dear postman this way? And where did they get all those rubber bands?
According to my children, he shot them with rubber bands whenever he was delivering our mail. They’d saved up all the rubber bands and waited in the trees to ambush him in retaliation. So, I sat back to watch the next time the mail truck pulled up. He placed our mail in the box, he greeted the kids warmly, they all ran down to greet him, a pile of rubber bands flew out the window at their feet, and there was a moment of calm while my kids armed themselves before the rubber bands flew back and forth. The laughter and goodhearted bantering went on for a minute or so then our mailman let out a playfully evil laugh and announced he’d get them next time before he moved on. And so the battle continued and still continues to this day eight or nine years later.
This is our mailman. He is the antonym of disgruntled postal worker. He does some crazy things people aren’t too sure of sometimes. He sings with classic rock songs at full volume while he is driving his route. He knocks on our doors using his head. He starts rubber band fights with the children. He will “race” me using his mail truck when I am out walking. He even shoots me with rubber bands if I’m not paying attention. Somehow, in all this he is an encouragement. It seems to me that he at least subconsciously knows this is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).
The kids and I attended a field trip at the Post Office a few years ago, and we were able to share how much we appreciate our mailman with them. I shared the story of my kids ambushing him as a cute anecdote of how well he interacts with the people on his route. The manager responded with a smile and said he would have to talk with our mailman about misuse of work materials again. I was concerned we had caused our mailman some trouble, but when I tried to explain my reason for telling the story, the man stopped me with a smile and explained that it was more of a joke to discipline our mailman because he has been working there over thirty years which is longer than any other person working there right now, even his managers, and he loves his job; he is surely not going anywhere any time soon.
God willing, I hope that’s true. How many good examples of someone loving one’s job to the fullest do we get to show our children these days? So often we are surrounded by people who are counting the minutes until their shift is done. Store clerks do this out loud in front of my kids all the time. Job loyalty seems to be a thing of the past as well. It seems as if people take every job as if it is simply a stepping stone on their way to something “better.” Some able-bodied people in our community even consider unemployment “better” than a lower level employment opportunity. Where is the contentment in this? Where is the grateful heart in all this? Where is the joy?
In Hebrews 12:2-3 we read, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus stepped down from the glories of heaven and was the ultimate example of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control while he lived and worked among men. In his earthly ministry, he was not concentrating on what each job he did would gain him, nor do I believe his thoughts were ever on when his shift would be done and he could kick back and relax. No, his focus was on where his purpose, power, and strength came from. This is where job satisfaction truly comes from, this is where we find our joy as well. Jesus focused on the big picture, and we can as well because He has shared it with us. We may not know all of the details, and things will always catch us by surprise if we are not armored in the power and strength of his Holy Spirit and armed with the Scriptures, but we can be confident and know joy when we work for God and not self or man.
This is what I am trying to pass on to my children. They are at the age now where they are entering the work force. They have been picking up odd jobs and helping wherever they can. Yes, they like the part where they can make a few dollars, but quite often they enjoy learning new skills and doing the actual work more. Once or twice they have complained about someone they have had to work with or how they have been treated. I point out to them that some of our neighbors have called to complain about our mailman and his odd behavior, but he still chooses to do his job with a smile on his face and rubber bands flying. Jesus was abused in so many awful ways and then he was sacrificed and conquered death as part of his service, and he did this in peace for the joy it was to fulfill His plan and promise. “We can only decide for ourselves,” I remind them. Then I ask, “Who are you working for? Man or God?”
Lord God, I thank You for being the author and perfecter of our faith. I thank You for your life gift. I thank You for the work you have given each of us. I have read and believe that the main principle You were trying to teach us with the book of Ecclesiastes was that the human quest for meaning and purpose can never be satisfied through earthly pursuits, but only by embracing an eternal perspective. I pray that today we your children may eat and drink and find satisfaction in our toilsome labor; please enable us to enjoy what we do have, to accept our lot and be happy in our work, and to see this truly as a gift from You (Ecclesiastes 5). Amen.