“Suppose one of you has a servant who is plowing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry along and eat his meal? Of course not! Instead, you say to him, ‘Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.’ The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.’” — Luke 17:7-10
I joined the Air Force when I was 18 years old, went through basic training in upstate New York in the winter, caught pneumonia in the process and then was sent to New Mexico as my first duty station—to dry out. My new life in the military was quite a transition for a kid from Florida!
I’ll never forget when I first reported for duty, the First Sergeant of my new squadron welcomed me by telling me to report for KP the next day at 5:30—A.M! For those of you not familiar with the term, KP is short for Kitchen Police—preparing food for the base cafeteria, which in those days was referred to (appropriately at times) as the “mess hall.” No explanation needed. When I arrived that morning, there were only two jobs that hadn’t been taken for the day—peeling potatoes and washing the pots and pans. I chose the potatoes—all three hundred pounds of them. Do you know how long it takes to peel three hundred pounds of potatoes? By yourself?
So I peeled the potatoes for the breakfast, lunch and dinner meals—then I was ready to go back to my barracks. I was tired and I thought my work for the day was done. When I went to the sergeant in charge to tell him I was all through, I fully expected him to tell me I could go. Instead he ordered me to stick around until after the last meal was served to help mop the floors—then I could go. When I expressed my displeasure at what I thought to be extra duty he said, “Airman, you’re on duty as long as I say you are.” It was a long day!
The use of parables was the favorite teaching method of our Lord (Mark 4:34). They are often described as earthly stories with heavenly meanings. Jesus uses this illustration from Luke’s gospel of a servant and His master, to teach us a spiritual truth about our relationship with God as His earthly servants. Like my KP Sergeant, we have a duty to obey our Lord in whatever He calls us to do for as long as He tells us to do it. We’re on duty as long as He says we are and when it’s time to go home—we’ll go home to be with Him forever. My enlistment in the Air Force was for four years. Our enlistment with God is for eternity!
So what will our thanks likely be? On this earth most likely few. But when we depart this life for the next, how about this for starters from Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
Hey, dear saints, peeling potatoes in this life isn’t that bad—especially when it’s in God’s mess hall. — Maranatha!