Hope Church @ Port City

A good morning

...and by His stripes we are healed. (Is. 53:5)

A good morning

So, indeed, THIS is what an excellent morning looks like:

I was awake at about 4:45. Laid there for a little while, just enjoying the covers, the warm doggie sleeping on me (we’ve got a little Jack Russell Terrier), and the sound of Ken’s breathing. Then I got up and made some coffee.

Speaking of coffee, I was in the right place at the right time the other day. I usually buy the cheaper-but-still-good stuff; but we stopped at Lowes because it was convenient. They had some organic breakfast blend on sale for $5 or so, so I snapped up a bag of it …. oooooh it’s goooooood!

As the coffee brewed, I curled up in my blue chair in the living room (where I work from – since I have a laptop, I’m able to work from a recliner. (heh – or from bed, the front porch, the picnic table off in the woods, the coffee shop, or anywhere else I feel like working) Wouldn’t have a desktop computer if you paid me.) But this morning, I didn’t have my computer – I had about half an hour in the Word.

I’m reading through Matthew “quickly” instead of getting bogged down in individual verses or passages, to pick up on more of the main themes of the book. For instance, I’d never realized before just HOW MUCH about the Kingdom of God was in this book! Reading it bit by bit the way I normally study, I was missing that “big picture”.

I did, however, stop at a favorite story: Matthew 20:1-16. This is Jesus likening the Kingdom to a vineyard. The vineyard’s owner goes out early in the morning and hires some workers for the day, and promises to pay them a denarius… the normal wage for a day’s work. I just found a website that says today’s vineyard workers get paid between $6.82 to $9.23 per hour. That’s an average of $8.03 an hour or almost $65 a day (based on an 8-hour day; not sure how long they’d have worked then.) Of course, vineyard workers might’ve been “worth more” or “worth less” back then, but let’s just use that $65 figure because it works in the mind, ok?

So, the owner promised these earlybirds $65 for working all day long in his vineyard. Not bad, in fact I might consider it (if only to learn what to do better for my own grapes!)

But … there weren’t enough workers for the owner to be happy. So he went out a couple hours later, hired some more, and didn’t promise them a dollar amount. He said, “I’ll pay you what’s right at the end of the day.” And then at almost the end of the day, he did the same exact thing.

At the end of the day, he set about paying the bunch of them … from the last, to the first. He gave the last a denarius – $65. When those who’d been first saw this, they became excited – were they to be paid more?

They complained bitterly when handed their $65 for the day – which was exactly what they’d agreed to.

The owner said, “I wish to give to this last man the same as you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?” (emphasis mine)

How often I hear from people, “It’s too late for me, my life’s over!” (usually when they’re still rather young) or “God would never want me, I’ve done too much” … but this story illustrates that God will take you, no matter what stage of life you’re in, and give you the reward He’s promised in the hereafter (and in the present) – so long as you draw breath, you can come to Him.

This story is also a rebuke against those who feel that “11th-hour” conversions may not be valid, or that because they’ve been lifelong Christians, or because they’ve done “much for God” (errr, think about that for a minute, will you) that they are somehow deserving of a bigger blessing (look also in Matthew for the story of the two brothers wanting to sit at the right and left of Jesus; these passages are related!!)

So…. after I dug into the Word for a while, I grabbed my coffee and wandered out on the porch. I pray on my front porch often, because I’m often awake either very late or very early and don’t want to wake people up. I had a wonderful time with the Lord this morning. I know intellectually, because the Bible says so, that when I pray I’m heard. But sometimes in prayer God’s presence is so powerful that you can’t help but be over-awed.

Then when I was about to wrap up and go inside, I happened to look up. It was still quite dark, and there were stars everywhere (one reason we bought a house out here in the country). I was instantly reminded of the passage that says that God counts the stars and knows them by name … and there were a billion zillion stars up there this morning. It hit me that He may know a billion zillion stars – and all the other things He’s got to keep up with, running the universe and all – and yet He still knows me by name, and He cares about me more than any human mind can even fathom.

I’m about to start crying and praising Him all over again! Hallelujah! Can’t start the day better than this.