I’m a recycler. I haven’t always been, however. I grew up with learning that respect the environment meant putting trash in the bin. We grew up with Smokey the Forest Ranger teaching us how to not start forest fires (he must have grown up in California…) and there was some commercial about a Native American with a tear in his eye.
So in essence, if I was to be a responsible citizen, everything went, um….into the landfill.
Out of sight, out of mind. (Ouch.)
Thankfully, as my children learned about recycling in Girl Scouts, the concept moved closer to my frontal lobe as well. It still took me several years to get into full swing, but now we even compost. It has been pretty eye-opening for me to see what we used to discard that could have been a valuable resource in a different form.
And what a terrific recycling plant we have here in our small town! It’s clean, the people are helpful; in fact, one bitterly cold winter morning, (when I ventured out because my bins at home were overflowing), not only were they open, but I turned around and most of my valuable trash had already been lifted out of the cart and deposited in the receptacle! Thanks, guys!!
I kind of see the Old Testament Levites in the same way. Talk about a thankless job! They weren’t the ones who got to wear the nicely jeweled priestly garments, oh no. They got to do the dirty work, heavy lifting, and excessively boring parts of, well, worship. They kept an eye on things while they kept themselves in the background.
Which means that, during much of the Hebrew nation’s dysfunctional history, these important bean-counters still had a job to do. After one particularly difficult stretch in Judah’s kingdom, we find the Levites talking to the new king, Hezekiah:
“We have also recovered all the items discarded by King Ahaz when he was unfaithful and closed the Temple. They are now in front of the altar of the LORD, purified and ready for use.”
Have you ever shined up silver?? I can only imagine the years of dust and grime, stuff that’s worse than my garage, mice and all!
As much as all this might sound like a good description of Christian servanthood in general, it actually makes me think of pastors. Let me just say right here that I do not have a pastor’s heart, which means I really appreciate those that do. A lot. I’m more of a “You don’t like it? There’s the door” personality. If someone wants to stake a claim on their own personal landfill, whatever.
Not pastors. And I don’t mean professional pastors, the person typically behind the pulpit. I’m talking about those whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the shepherding heart of Pastor. These are the modern-day Levites who see what has been discarded in someone’s life, but know how to bring out, shine it up, and make it functional once again for its intended use.
Pastors are not intimidated by the mice droppings, the cobwebs, and the melted wax brought on from years of misuse. As the old story goes, where others see only manure, they just know there’s a pony in there somewhere! Which means there are pastors that most people don’t even know about.
Just a thought.
Others can teach, evangelize, and may even have a modern prophetic or apostolic calling, but pastors—that gift that is so easily taken for granted—are also in a class of their own.
It’s not a calling for wimps.
2 Chronicles 29: 19 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.