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We are all at different stages in our journey

Working in God's vineyard. Credit: Shawn Harquail/Flickr/Creative Commons

The principles that govern work in God’s vineyard. Credit: Shawn Harquail/Flickr/Creative Commons

There is a story in the Gospels that portrays how God views our faith journey.

Some of us may feel like we are not keeping up with the spiritual Jones. I see men and women pushing ahead in God, accomplishing great things and wonder if I could have done better.

In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus tells the story of the owner of a vineyard who needed to hire workers for the day. It was a parable describing the principles that govern the Kingdom of God and work in God’s vineyard.

It seems there was a spot in the market place where men gathered who were looking for work.

The owner showed up early in the morning (probably around 6 am) and found some men who were interested. He offered them a denarius to which they agreed as it represented a typical day’s wage.

But the owner still needed more help. He checked again at 9am and hired a few more. Other workers were picked up at noon and 3pm.

By the end of the day, some of the men had worked eight hours when the last few straggled in.

But it is what the owner did at the end of the day, that reveals the real meaning of this story. The owner paid all the employees the same wage — a denarius — whether they started at 6am or 3pm.

Though, the workers who had been in the vineyard since early morning had agreed to the pay, they felt shortchanged when they saw men who started at noon and 3pm receiving the same wage.

They complained. But the owner said they had all agreed to the pay scale.

It is  a powerful story, because it showed the owner valued the contribution of those who started at 3pm, the same as those who started at 6am.

But the story also tells us something else. All these workers, including the men who showed up later, were wanting work.

But something held the later ones back.

There were things happening in their lives that prevented them from showing up at an earlier hour.

There were issues.

Some had self-doubt. Some had emotional issues dealing with an abusive childhood. Others struggled with addictions.

The fact that the owner awarded them all the same pay, shows that in God’s eyes it is not how quick you get to the place that God can use you, it is that you do eventually get there.

We are all on a journey with God. We have dreams and visions and for some of us it takes a bit longer. Don’t despise your journey.

Many of you have undoubtedly heard of Colonel Sanders the founder of the storied Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. What most don’t realize is that he didn’t start his first fast-food chain until he was 62.

And when he started he was on government social security and was receiving  $105 a month. Today this multi-billion dollar franchise has restaurants around the world.

One of the reasons for his late start may have been those issues I was talking about earlier.

According to Wikipedia, born in 1890, Colonel Sanders had a rough start in life. His father died when the colonel was five and while his mother worked, the family’s children scoured the neighborhood looking for food.

As the oldest in the family, Sanders was responsible for cooking the meals which would pave the way for his future success.

Sanders had his first job at age 10.

When his mother remarried, he left the family at the age of 13 to work on a neighboring farm due to problems with his step-father. Other children left the home early for the same reason.

For the next few years he bounced around several jobs. Some only lasting a couple of months before he moved on. Sometimes he left on his own volition others he left before he was fired.

He was able to find work in the railroad industry with the help of his uncle. But was fired from a promising job as a steam stoker because of a fight with a fellow worker.

After he married, he took night classes and became a lawyer. He was eventually kicked out of the profession when he got into a brawl with his client in a courtroom.

After that he worked as an insurance salesman with a number of companies — in one instance fired for insubordination.

From there he moved into tires and autos and in 1930 was hired to manage a service station in North Corbin, Kentucky where he was involved in a gun fight with the manager of a competing service station over the placement of a sign.  A person with Sanders was killed and the competitor was sentenced for murder.

But it was during this period that he set up cafeterias associated with the service station and began to develop what would become his Kentucky recipe.

By this time he had divorced his first wife and married his mistress. He and his new wife set up a restaurant in Corbin, where they perfected their chicken recipe.

During the war years, the rationing of gas ended many gas stations including the ones that Sanders worked in and he moved into the food industry managing cafeterias for the government.

In 1952, he franchised his secret chicken recipe to a successful restaurant in South Salt Lake City Utah. After the restaurant’s sales tripled largely due to chicken sales, others became interested in his recipe which he franchised out a .o4 cents per chicken.

He traveled around the US peddling his recipe to restaurants where he offered to cook them a meal and if they like it franchised the recipe. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was born.

When in 1964, at age 73, he sold his business to a group of investors, there were 600 restaurants using the recipe. For years after, he served as a figure-head for KFC.

Despite growing up in a Christian home, he wandered away from his faith, but renewed it in his later years. In 1970 he and his wife were baptized in the Jordan River. Though he was always a bit rough around the edges, Sanders developed close associations with the ministries of Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell.

Sanders died in 1980, age 90. His funeral was held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

For some of us, it takes longer to get to where God wants us. My message is this: Don’t despise your journey. God doesn’t.


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