Monday, November 28, 2016

Don’t Let a Defective Digit Defeat You

Because the lower left bar in the hour digit on this clock didn't
illuminate properly, it wasn't dependable for telling the correct time.
My mind had to be playing tricks on me! When I glanced at the digital alarm clock at the hotel, it read “5:58.” A few minutes later I looked at it again and it read “5:03.” I knew we were changing to Daylight Standard Time later that day, but was the clock programmed to reset itself?

Later in the evening when I checked the time it read “7:46.” But when I looked at it less than a half hour later, it read “9:10.” What in the world? I compared the time with my watch, as I had earlier in the day, and it was off by an hour. Was I hallucinating? Maybe the toll of travel in the Northeast was more than I had expected?

Then I realized the problem: The lower left bar in the digital numeral for the hour wasn’t properly illuminated. Unless you looked very closely, the 6 would appear to be a 5, and the 8 seemed to be a 9. Not a big deal, unless you needed to get up at 6 a.m., looked at the clock and thought it said 5 a.m., so you went back to sleep for an hour.

Isn’t it funny how the failure of one part can undermine the effectiveness of the whole? We’ve probably all had the experience of enjoying a nice, smooth drive down the highway when a flat tire suddenly spoiled the ride. Everything was great with the car – except for one tire. Or you’re finally about to finish that beautiful 500-piece puzzle and then discover one piece is missing. For some reason, having assembled a 499-piece puzzle isn’t nearly as satisfying.

We see this principle in the sports world all the time: An offensive lineman misses a key block, causing the running back to be tackled behind the line of scrimmage. In basketball, the point guard makes the perfect pass as his teammate glides toward the basket for the game-winning shot, but he drops the ball as time expires. How successful would a rowing team be if one of its competitors lost an oar?

Perhaps nowhere is the significance of every single part greater than in the body of Christ. The choir seems well-rehearsed for the Christmas cantata, but if Phoebe insists on singing off-key, the result will be the choral equivalent of finding a fly in your soup. Pastor Glutz might have prepared the most stirring sermon of his life, but it’ll be for naught if Herbie in the tech department doesn’t properly control the sound system.

Even more important is what transpires in the name of Jesus outside of what we typically call “the church.” As the apostle Paul wrote, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ…” (1 Corinthians 12:12). If you read a powerful book by your favorite Christian author, think about all the people who were involved in bringing the book to reality – the editors, graphic designers, proof readers, press operators, distributors, etc.

I’ve known people who were gifted evangelists, possessing unique abilities for communicating the gospel message to receptive, listening ears. But before they could speak at outreach meetings, it took other individuals to handle many details, ranging from selecting a venue and planning the event to inviting guests and preparing for follow-up on those who responded.

Stories from foreign missionaries stir us, hearing about God at work in various parts of the world, reaching men, women and children in different cultures. But without the help and support of many people in the United States, the missionaries couldn’t do the work they’ve been called to do.

We admire those with spiritual gifts that put them in the public eye, whether it’s a speaker, singer, author or denominational leader. But we’re all part of the “puzzle,” and without each one of us, the task would be incomplete.

As Paul wrote, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor…. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body…” (1 Corinthians 12:21-25).

So even if you feel you’re laboring in obscurity for God, that no one notices or cares about what you’re doing, remember that He notices and cares – and that’s all that matters. Don’t be like the missing bar in the digital numeral. Each one of us has an important role to play; without us, the mission could fail.

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