His worn boots dragging clouds of dust behind him, Rusty shuffled toward the tool shed. Another Monday morning. Another long week looming ahead. The dread of another day in the mines - back bent, mind numbed by the tediousness of shoveling ore hour after hour, day after day, year after year. Twenty years he’d already worked the mine. How many more could he endure?
One of the last to the shed, Rusty noted there were only two shovels left. One was out of place there. It was a snow shovel. What was it doing in a mine? With its huge mouth, it could gobble up twice the volume of regular shovels - but that would mean twice the weight! Rusty was no fool; he took the smaller shovel - the easier day. That would prove to be a mistake.
Midway through the afternoon, the mine owner came to call. Out of place against the coal-gray walls, his starched white shirt seemed to glow in the dimness of the mine as he made a startling announcement. What was that he was saying?
Pushing closer, Rusty was sure he heard something about early retirement. Anybody with 20 years? “Hey that’s me!” he grinned. And what was that next part? “Sir, could you repeat that?”
“You men have served well, and the mine has prospered,” he was saying. “We want to reward you, based on how hard you’ve worked. I have a cart full of gold coins for you. You each get to scoop out a full shovel to have for your retirement fund. You will use the shovel you have in your hand.”
Rusty remembered the out-of-place snow shovel in the shed and groaned.
An unlikely story perhaps, but our boss said much the same. “Forgive and you will be forgiven” he advised, “. . . for with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:37-38). The shovel we use to measure out forgiveness to others is the one that God will use to determine how much forgiveness we receive.
Do you need forgiveness? Would it help if God cut you some slack? Would it take a mountain of mercy to cover your mistakes? Choose a big shovel. The more you give; the more you receive.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Which shovel did you take from the shed this morning?