Arriving at the work site, we three teenagers climbed down from the truck. “Grab the shovels and rakes,” the foreman said, and follow me.” He led us to three giant piles of earth dumped near two oil storage tanks. Our job was to shape these huge mounds of earth into a neat, square dike to surround the tanks. I wondered briefly if I had been selected for this project because I was a Dutchman.
“This is going to take all week,” I thought, as we walked up to the closest pile. Just then, the foreman shouted, “Wait!”
We stopped and heard the roar of a large diesel engine starting up, and, from behind the tanks, a bulldozer lurched into view. All right! Suddenly, with that rumbling resource, our intimidating task appeared much more doable.
“Follow the bulldozer,” the foreman instructed, “I’ll stake out the width of the dike. Make it as high as your shovel handle. Finish it with your shovels and rakes.”
It reminded me of Pentecost. Jesus—the Foreman—had given His disciples—the Church—the task of evangelizing the world and discipling the nations. He had also told them to wait. Wait for the sound of the rushing mighty wind of the Resource, not in the form of a bulldozer, but of the mighty Holy Spirit, God Himself, to empower them for the immense task.
“Follow the Holy Spirit,” their Foreman instructed. His instructions are still valid for the Church, the multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-dimensional Church living, growing and working all over the world today.
Not only must a billion believers around the world depend on our Resource to evangelize the world, we also need to rely on Him to provide everything we need to meet the challenges and difficulties in our lives.
I remember some years ago when my wife, Jo, had just had the third surgery on the same hip with another one to come. I asked the nurse in charge what we could do to lessen the pain and increase Jo’s mobility after this unwelcome complication.
“Well,” was the defeatist response, “that’s just the way it goes sometimes. She’ll need to grin and bear it.”
Really? Are we simply to accept whatever happens to us, hang in there somehow, and grimly endure it? That attitude is pagan fatalism. Many cultures around the world are infected with this idea that everything that happens is inevitable, that we are all helpless in the grip of blind fate.
Fatalism is an attitude from hell. It keeps poor people poor, sick people sick, and dysfunctional families, governments, and organizations dysfunctional. Billions of people see themselves as being in the grip of blind fate. They accept the situations they are in as “meant to be.”
Fortunately, the Good News of Jesus produces an utterly different attitude. Jesus introduced us to an all seeing, all loving, and all knowing God, not an unknowing, uncaring, blind fate, He personified the God who is personally interested in each of His creatures, loving them so much, He became one of us to live, suffer, die and rise again from the dead to set us on the right track. Our God wants to rescue us from our hellish worldviews, and give us a clear view of Himself as the centre of the Universe and of our lives. Our God Himself is the Great Resource, our Heavenly Bulldozer, who goes before us.
Jo and I got through those surgeries by depending on our Resource. We had depended on Him on earlier occasions—a decade of fiscal distress, five years of confusion and depression during intense opposition to our life’s work, and were about to enter more stressful years when our grandson developed seizures and had brain surgery which left his body weakened on one side.
Jesus does not leave us to face an impossible task with shovels and rakes. His Holy Spirit fills and empowers us to deal with whatever comes into our lives in a God-honouring way. Not fatalistically grinning and bearing it, but courageously, knowing that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.