By John Halford
I began my working life in a big department store in London, England. I was bored, frustrated and getting nowhere. One day, out of the blue, I was offered a new job.
It seemed too good to be true. It involved travel, more money and a future in one of Britain’s most successful companies.
I put on my best (well, only) suit and went along for an interview in the company’s London headquarters. I was ushered into an imposing conference room, where several prosperous looking executives were waiting to talk to me. From the start, things did not go well. I was utterly out of my depth, exposed as an immature and nervous teenager with high hopes but low qualifications.
After about 10 minutes, my inquisitors asked me to leave and wait in the outer office. Soon the phone rang, the receptionist said "yes sir," and with what I thought was a sympathetic glance in my direction, she got up and went into the conference room. The door had a pneumatic hinge and took several seconds to close completely.
In those few seconds I overheard snatches of conversation as the great men inside discussed my future.
It was not easy listening: "fellow’s a bag of nerves" ... "no experience" ... "not really what we are looking for" ... "might have a low level position" ... "need someone more mature"....
Then the door closed and I was left in misery. Moments later the receptionist emerged and announced politely: "Mr. Halford. I have been asked to tell you that we do not have anything available for you right now. But if anything comes up we will keep you in mind. Thank you for your time."
I was expecting it. Those snatches of conversation, heard through the closing door, had prepared me. I felt rejected, without hope or a future.
Gloom and doom
No hope and no future. What a tragic place to find yourself. But don’t we all feel like that sometimes? We feel inadequate, spiritual frauds, unworthy of our calling. We know we need to "do better" and get ourselves in "good spiritual shape," so that we have a better chance of "making it" before it is "too late." But sometimes it seems that the door is closing, and we feel ourselves as I did, sitting in the outer office, waiting for the inevitable axe to fall.
But just suppose that instead of those negative comments, I had heard: "seems like the sort of chap we want" ... "bit young, but he’s eager" ... "got a way to go yet, but I think he can do the job" ... "definitely liked the look of him" ... "let’s give him a chance."
How different I would have felt as I waited. That is how God wants us to feel. Far from the doors closing on our future, God is opening them. Or rather, Jesus Christ burst through them, blowing them off their hinges. He brought the news of the kingdom of God, of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation between God and his creation, and the astonishing news that "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
He hasn’t told us everything he has in mind for us yet. But the snatches of conversation we do hear are encouraging: "I am come that they may have life…," "I go to prepare a place for you…," "In my Father’s house are many mansions," "Father, I want those that you have given me to be with me where I am…," "Fear not, little flock, because it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom...."
It certainly sounds like we’ve got the job. We don’t need to be good enough. No experience is necessary, except that of being a repentant sinner. Everyone who applies is acceptable, no matter what their previous record was like. Everyone can feel wanted — and needed.
So — since you have got the job, you may as well start immediately. No need to give notice. This world and its ways owe you nothing, while the kingdom is experiencing a temporary staff shortage. "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few," said Jesus. There is work to do now.
As we wait for the fullness of the kingdom, we can show our friends and neighbors that they too are loved and acceptable, and that they too can have hope and a future.