I can still hear his voice…
“Mud, brick, Flue!”
My father’s bellowing, high on the scaffold, mid-afternoon; the mason pushing hard to finish the chimney by nightfall. The sound reached me as I hoisted a 94-pound sack of dry mortar up onto a cement mixer. At the time I was pre-adolescent, a lanky 110lbs. His mason’s shirtless form, wispy white hair, and crazed wild eyes were looking down at me! My heart sunk for a moment, because I realized he was out of supply.
His brothers nicknamed him Barney, short for the wild-man-of-Borneo. No one laborer could keep his pace, and it took at least two to keep mortar on his trowel and brick in his hand. In that moment I heard him yell from the scaffold, all I could do was cut the bag in half, and send it’s dusty contents into the whirling machine. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t keep up. Yet, I knew what his face looked like when he ran out of supplies and had to to do my job. It wasn’t a scowl, or even a put-off look. He smiled!
The face is the organ of favor. It has power to approve or deny, hide or shine. When a parent wants their child to listen, they will often say, “look at me!”
When God asks us to listen, it’s similar, and in those moments, what do you see?
Tough question, right? That’s because the Bible never paints His portrait. We ‘see’ Him by faith, our hearts probing around the truths of His character, in one sense blind, until we someday see Him face to face.
In Psalm 27, David pleads, “Do not cover your face from me, or turn your servant away in exasperation.” Rather than my father getting angry, impatient, and demanding more of me, he would help me! He would become the laborer, the job he paid me to do; a side of that opaque portrait of God in Scripture. I think that’s why the Holy Spirit is called the Helper!
My father used our lunch break under the shade to see how things were going. Next to him I felt valued in the work and approved by his words. He would take his Ham & Cheese on Rye, split it, and hand me a jagged piece. Then he would remind me, “You’re not like others who I hire, you’ve seen them come and go. Remember, if you can’t keep up, rest, because I will help you.”
Do you know why I can’t forget this story? Because he meant it, and I believed it!
At day’s end, I would scooch into his pick-up truck, between he and my uncle Dave. It wouldn’t be long during the bumpy ride home, that my head would begin a gradual descent, to finally rest on his bigger-than-life shoulder, and then fall fast sleep. I rested there, regardless of how I did. At the end of the day, he wasn’t Barney, he was dad.
At the close of each day, God’s shoulder is there, too.
When it gets tough in our part of the mission, and we suspect we haven’t pulled our weight, there is a Shoulder. When we succumb to that persistent temptation, remember He’s still there. When we face deadlines, short tempers, no shows and low support, at day’s end we will have the pillow of God’s shoulder to rest upon, God’s committed love, sweeter than the softest down.
There is not enough darkness, defeat, sin, disappointment or failure to turn His face away from us. He did that when He denied His Son on the cross. He’s done with turning, and now offers us His Face of favor and His shoulder of comfort.
Tonight, lets remember to take the bumpy ride home, with Dad.