Ever felt like you were the low man on the totem pole, insignificant, not important, disposable? I admit that it has been easy for me to feel that way about myself at times. But lately, I’ve begun to see the low positions in life can actually be some of the most important.
After my freshman year in college, I worked at a factory where rubber parts were manufactured. It wasn’t exactly a glamorous position. And, admittedly, it was easy to think more highly of myself than those others. After all I was going to college. They weren’t.
But after a while, I began to see things a bit differently. The people I worked with that summer were some of the kindest, most humble and hard-working people I’ve ever known. They looked out for each other and, though I was new, they looked out for me, too.
There was one night when I was working on the line and falling behind on trimming my parts. Panic welled up in me as I fell further and further behind. When one of the other guys on the line walked up, I thought he was going to chew me out. But he didn’t. Instead, he silently grabbed some of my parts and began to trim them, too. No questions asked.
9 Believers who are[a] poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.
Currently, I work at my kids’ school as a teacher’s aide. It’s not always the most desirable job. I have two recess duties. And in the winter, it’s cold and windy and snowy. What can I say, it’s Iowa. Sometimes the kids don’t always respect you the best either. After all, you’re not their teacher. It can kind of be a downer—leave me feeling like I’m not valued. But, when I stumbled across the above verse in James 1:9, it reminded me that God looks at things differently than man does.
It’s not bad to be low man on the totem pole. It doesn’t make you weak, or insignificant, or unknown. God knows you. He knows everything you do. He sees it all, and when you do your work willingly and well, he is proud of you.
At the same time, if you have one of those high-profile jobs, it’s easy to look at your status in life and feel overly proud and confident—to look down on those you feel have less important jobs in this world. But as the Scripture says, man looks at the outside, but God looks at our hearts.
Remember Jesus. He was King of Heaven and Earth. But he didn’t stay there. When it was time, he humbled himself, came down to this earth as a little baby and gave up his glory to save you and me.
As Philippians 2:5-8 says:
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,[a]
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
he took the humble position of a slave[c]
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,[d]
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
It doesn’t matter so much what you do as how you do it. If it’s a job nobody else wants, do it with pride. Make the most of it. Realize that you are important and special in the grand scheme of things, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
No matter what your station or status in life is, don’t consider yourself more important than others or, on the other end of the spectrum, feel that what you do has no merit or value. We are all children of the same Heavenly Father and in that way, we are equal before him. Equally loved, equally cherished, equally valued. In that knowledge, be and do all that you were meant to on this side of eternity so that, in the end, you can say you lived your years to the fullest whatever your situation in life was.
This past week a good friend and I were talking. I was sharing that I have been struggling lately-God seems so far off. It’s during these times that I wish I could hear his voice. Even a gentle whisper would be satisfactory to nothingness.
One thing that makes this time of life so tricky for me is the fact that listening for God’s voice, at least audibly, is what got me into trouble the night I was hospitalized. Up until my hospitalization, I felt like God was speaking to me. But as I began to come out of a state of psychosis, I realized that all the visions and voices of the past several days were simply a mirage—a promise that turned out to be nothing. I was left brokenhearted.
As I began to recover, I realized that if I wanted to hear from God, I would have to depend on something more reliable then a voice in my head. From that point on, whenever I needed to hear from him, I turned to his word, the Bible, for confirmation, guidance and direction.
Since that time eleven years ago, I’ve dabbled with the whole “listening” for God. In fact, there have been many times when I’ve longed desperately for a concrete sign or a clear distinct voice to guide me. But for me, it’s just not a viable option—too much of what I “feel” like God is saying to me has been tied up in lies.
My experience is an isolated one, and I am by no means saying that God can’t speak to us audibly if he so chooses. But when I want to hear from God, I go to the letter he’s written. When dealing with all of life’s ups and downs, the Bible is my compass.
While I understand that this is how I need to function, it doesn’t make it any easier when it seems like God is far off.
As I was explaining all of this to my dear friend, inspiration struck. I realized that life is kind of like a puzzle. You know how when you do a puzzle you group pieces according to color—whether the pieces are dark or light or in between, they all have their place. There are pieces that are sunny in nature and others that are deep and dark and rich. It’s the contrast that makes the puzzle so beautiful.
My mom used to say, “If you never experience the bad days than how can you appreciate the good.” That advice used to drive me crazy and, quite frankly, it still does. But when I look at life as a puzzle, I realize that part of the beauty of the picture is the balance between light and dark, shadows and sunshine.
When the puzzle that is my life is complete, I have no doubt that the result will be beautiful. And though I don’t understand these times, I won’t wish them away. Each day is a valuable, intricate part of the bigger picture.
On the darker days, I remind myself that the shadowy pieces balance out the luminous ones, making for a picture that is both rich and complete.
Whether yours is a day filled with sunshine or shadows, I wish you peace and leave you with the reminder that the gloomy days of life are just as important as the bright ones. Accept the bad as well as the good realizing that when your days on this earth are done, the picture that God has made of your life will be both a complete and beautiful work of art.
*Originally posted May, 12th 2014 on poolsofblessing.com