The Season of Lent
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As we have entered into the Lenten season, I remember my roots of growing up in a religion that focused on the season with the fasting, the giving up of pleasures and the fish dinner Fridays. Apart from the legalistic attitudes, I remember the training in reverence and self denial. These lessons are well worth paying attention to at any time of year.
I had a dream this morning which is uncommon for me due to the fact that I rarely achieve the REM state of sleep. When I awake knowing that I had dreamed, it is cause for me to give thanks. After waking with a more refreshed feeling than normal I decided to record this particular dream because it was both pleasant and had a good reminder for me and whoever would read my blogs. The lesson of the dream is that the “little guys” really are as important as the supposed “big guys”. Those we glamorize seem bigger than life somehow as we put them on pedestals and are star struck when in their presence. I don’t know why this is the case, but it seems unavoidable. I believe it is somewhat due to intimidation. People at the “top” of the hierarchical structures we create tend to be confident and outgoing personalities. At least the persona they project can set the average guy back on his heels just a bit. One thing to keep in mind while reading the story is that all of the conversations were quite civil and friendly. There was no combativeness or jealousy. We talked together as old buddies would in matter of fact style. That said, let’s get onto the dream.
I was in what appeared to be a very large press room of a sporting facility following an event. Although the sport is immaterial to this story line, I believe it was football. My understanding was that the men I was seeing were the guys I hear on the satellite sports channel in my truck. They are radio slash writers slash play by play and color commentators slash former players. They seem to make their living doing a variety of things. These particular men had just finished up and were packing up their laptops and note pads as they talked about the trip they were about to embark upon. They were talking like normal guys, not prim donnas or self indulged. It was I that had put them on a bit of a pedestal.
I said, “So, it’s a big trip to London. Get the boarding pass and reset the watch, huh?” They said, “Yeah” with half smiles. They rehearsed the errands they needed to complete before the boarding pass stage rolled around. After short banter about that, for whatever reason that I don’t recall, I said, “Just remember that it is the little guy that is the most important. The Apostle Paul wrote that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.” One of the men inquired as to why I said that. I responded, “You guys are in the spotlight with the glamorous job, but I’m a truck driver that makes it possible for you to do your job.” I continued, “Without your gear being hauled to where you need it, or the sound technicians and others, you couldn’t do your job. Without the guys on the presses printing your stories or keeping the web sites up and running, no one would read your writings. Without the people running the stations, nobody would hear you on the radio during the week.” They nodded in agreement and the dream pretty much concluded as they walked out the door with their pouches.
As I gently woke up, I lay in bed pondering the story. I am not the biggest fish either. Without the guys at the refinery or in the oil fields, I have no diesel fuel for my truck. Without the guys in shipping and receiving at all the various companies I visit each week, I have no reason to drive because there would be no loads prepared for shipment. If not for the sales men and women struggling to meet their sales quotas, nothing would be moving. So goes the seeming endless chain of workers and duties, all interdependent upon each other. Without the upstream crowd, the downstream folks have nothing to do. Without those in the back ground, those in the fore ground cannot perform the task they were assigned to accomplish.
In Matthew 19:30, Jesus says, “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” But who are the first and who are the last? If we are all truly dependent upon one another, is there really a pecking order? I don’t think there is in the practical sense as described in this story. But how much of our attitudes and behaviors create the hierarchies in which we operate in our daily lives. We build up the sports heroes and celebrities only to watch them fall. Their sins are no different than ours really, just more public. Their lives are no more fulfilling than ours are, really, just more glitzy. We are the enablers in their trumped up positions and then we dare to gossip and ridicule their every move.
Perhaps the little guy is the “last” after all. But no, I suspect that our position in society has little to do with the whole concept. I believe it is what we do while in the position that we are in that really matters. Character and integrity will be the measuring sticks to evaluate the first and the last. Doing what we know we should while not doing what we know we shouldn’t. We ought to live rightly with the golden rule and all that while we roam this earth. Of course the biggest separation of people will be at the final judgment when those who submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ will be in one group while the other group consists of those who insisted on trying to resolve eternity in another way. Therefore, it is our responsibility to continue to share the good news of the Savior who came once to spare us from the wrath of God by shedding His blood on the cross at Calvary. That same Jesus Christ will return one day with judgment for all mankind. If one of us were to die today, which group would we be in?