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Devotion 41

WANTED: Tugboat Operators

Cruise ships are massive, at least in my limited experience. Yet as big and powerful as they are, they are helpless to dock without help.

What a fascinating thing it was to watch tugboats on opposite sides on either end of the ship, grunting and nudging the huge ships many times their size.

How human, I thought. How often do I need help? Not the sledge hammer kind that can do more harm than good, but the little touches, shifting me here or there, so I stay headed in the right direction.

We do that with our children. Teachers do it for their students. Leaders do it for their constituents, and preachers do it for their flocks.

But who helps the big guys? Who are their tugboats? Right! You and me.

That means we have to rev up our motors and put our shoulders to the wheel. That suggests effort; this is no free ride. Our little smokestacks have to be huffing and puffing so we can do what we need to do for those the Lord puts in our hearts, minds, and paths.

If you were asked to rank the following on a scale of one to five with number one being the cream of the crop, how would you rank them?

1. Christian school teacher in a Christian or public school

2. The church secretary, custodian, the bus driver, the gardener;

3. Church members who practice what they hear preached;

4. A pastor, evangelist, youth director or visitation pastor.

5. A Sunday School teacher, Awana leader, choir member, or usher;

Let me give you one other option: All of the above.

Of course, the last one is correct.

I was recently reminded of this while we were on our trip to Missouri. In WalMart — somehow we always visit one during our trips away from home! — I met a woman at the cash register who was buying supplies to make some special thing for an Awana group at her church.

It was the end of a long day with a short Saturday before her to get everything done. She was frazzled but cheerful, talking about the work before her.

"That's really what it's all about," I thought as I paid my bill and moved on.

Then I turned back, wanting to encourage her. "It's important work, you know," I said over my shoulder.

"I know," she agreed.

This is where Christianity is lived out before the community; and if we aren't there in our tugboat capacity, the church ship on which we are a part isn't going to make the connection with the community.

Tugboats aren't beautiful; the work they do is just plain nitty gritty. Lots of times no one even notices them any more than we tend see that rushed woman, packing in one more thing — this one for the Lord — into her busy day.

But God notices, and He is the one we want to please.

Your head honchos — from your immediate supervisor at work, to the leaders in your church, to the Falwells, the Grahams, the Schlaflys, the Kennedys, the Dobsons and the LeHayes — can't do it alone.

It's not my job to be their supervisor. If I waste my energy in petty judgments, shame on me. It's my job to "keep my eyes on Jesus, and my hand on the plow"* — or wheel — if you'll allow me to mix my metaphors.

God wants me to attend to my own tugboat. There's nothing wrong with that. Most of the work that is done in this world and in the church is done by average people who have learned how to work well with a quiet spirit, doing what their hands have found to do.**

And what does God say? "Well done, tugboat operator. Enter into the joy of your reward."***

* "Hands of the Plow," words and music by Bart Hanner, © 1995, Career-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. & Final Four Music, in Homecoming Souvenir Songbook, Volume Five, by Gaither Music Company.

** Ecclesiastes 9:10

***Matthew 25:23,25

For Further Consideration

Matthew 25:14-30

Luke 19:11-27

I Corinthians 12:12-31; 13

I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Luke 9:57-62

Help Somebody Today

Look all around you, find someone in need,

Help somebody today!

Tho' it be little — a neighborly deed —

Help somebody today!


Help somebody today, . . . Somebody along life's way;...

Let sorrow be ended, The friendless befriended,

Oh, help somebody today!

Many have burdens too heavy to bear,

Help somebody today!

Grief is the portion of some everywhere,

Help somebody today!

Some are discouraged and weary in heart,

Help somebody today!

Someone the journey to heaven should start,

Help someone today!

Music by Mrs. Frank M. Brock

Words by Charles H. Gabriel


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