You’d think sitting in the seat of the bulldozer would be more comfortable.
The big man in front of me loves his work. All his life, he’s run machines—big, get-your-attention, powerful pieces of equipment. He has leveled mountains, and filled valleys, eliminating the vast differences between the two. Rotting, uninhabitable houses have been knocked over, and foundations built up for impressive new edifices.
Talk about influencers! In forty years, he has never left a work site in the same condition as when he arrived. Not once.
Hmmm. I’m not sure I said that exactly as I intended. If you re-read that last paragraph, you might actually think I was talking about the man not leaving in the same condition.
Funny how words work, isn’t it?
The site is never the same. It’s perfectly true. On some days, you wouldn’t recognize the parcel of land as the same location, it has been changed so much. Structures razed, boulders moved, trees uprooted—nothing remains untouched.
But, read what I said again. In forty years, he has never left a work site in the same condition as when he arrived.
I realize a grammarian would wish to speak of the ambiguous antecedent and direct me to clarify the sentence. I think I’ll leave it as stated.
No, I’m not just being stubborn. The thing is, both ways of reading the sentence will lead to a correct conclusion.
It is true the work site is always changed—every time he alights from the seat of his equipment.
But, it is also important to note that the man himself is affected—without fail—by the work he has done.
For you see, every bump, every dimple in the ground under that powerful machine he controls impacts him. Tossed from side to side by the motion of the dozer or grader, his back muscles stretch and contort, endeavoring to keep him upright in the seat.
Day after day, the up and down motion—the back and forth assault—the sudden jolts and sudden stops, all of them conspire to make him a different person.
He feels it—from the soles of his feet to the top of his head, he feels it—the influencer influenced and, on some days, the leveler leveled. Going home to lie down, he counts the bruises and sore spots.
Every time he walks away from a work site, he is changed. The work site is too.
Did I tell you he loves his job? He still does.
Do you want to change your world?
Prepare to be changed, yourself.
I will tell you, I have watched folks who were intent on impacting their world be folded, spindled, and mutilated. Some have recovered. Others surrender, giving up their dreams and, sometimes, even their faith.
I have seen friends working steadily—day after day, year after year—aware of the damage done to themselves, yet slogging on toward the finish line. Goodbyes, diseases, physical need—all take their toll, yet all they see is the vision.
If anyone told you it was easy, they lied.
Nearing the time of His own death, the Teacher told His followers openly of the coming trouble, trouble which would devastate them personally. Then He said a strange thing. It didn’t fit with the warning they were hearing.
I have told you about these things so you would be at peace. (John 16: 33a)
Wait! He told them about terrible things which were in their future and then claimed the words should inspire a calm spirit?
How does that make sense?
I sit and think. Warnings are intended to instill fear and respect for danger, not peace. Not calm.
But, in all that intense group of burly, seasoned men sitting around Him, I can’t imagine that at least one of them didn’t recall the storm they had been through as they crossed the sea in a fishing boat together some time before. (Mark 4:35-41)
With the lightning flashing and wind gusting, their Teacher had simply spoken three words.
Peace. Be still.
To the storm, He spoke those three words. To His followers, the ones being molded and affected by hardship—five were needed.
Why are you so afraid?
In that whole group of men who sat and listened on that night to the Teacher who would be Savior, right before the world fell in on them, do you suppose any of them missed His meaning? I doubt it.
In this world, while you are shaping and influencing it, you will be shaped and influenced. Don’t be terrified. I have overcome the world. (John 16:33b)
Do we attempt to change the world in which we live?
It will attempt to change us.
In subtle ways, regardless of how hard we try—despite our best intentions—it will change us.
It will hurt us. It hurt Him.
And yet, can we—just for one instant—can we consider the ultimate Influencer?
Greater. Greater than any influence in the world.
In us—still greater.
Change your world. For good, change your world.
And, don’t fret.
You might fasten your seatbelt though.
The ride is likely to be a little bumpy.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
(from The Fellowship of the Ring ~ J.R.R. Tolkien)
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
(James 5:11 ~ NIV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.