Bars

The best moving boxes for books come from bars.

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I own a lot of books.

I was moving from Michigan to Illinois in 1999. I needed small, sturdy boxes in which to pack my library. Everyone knows that the best boxes for books first held vodka, scotch, or wine. Alcohol boxes must protect glass bottles. So, when I needed to move, I visited every container store, pub, and bar in the area. There is a first time for everything.

the call os guinnessApproaching one bar owner, I asked if he had just unpacked any bottles. I followed him up some stairs where he pointed to a couple dozen cardboard containers. There I noticed something unusual. Various types of alcohol were turned upside down, bottles attached to the wall. Each bottle was connected to a tube. All the tubes ran through the floor.

“I have never seen anything like this,” I began, “Why are these bottles arranged this way?”

A big smile broadened the proprietor’s face, “Oh! I just had this installed! Let me tell you!

The bar owner proceeded to explain the process. The evening bartender, located just below this upper room, could fashion any drink simply by punching buttons. The system would release exactly the right amount of liquid from any bottle to create a drink.

What impressed me about the conversation was not the details of drink creation. I was taken by the man’s excitement, his thrill for artisthis vocation. Here was a man pleased with his calling. He was excited about a system that pleased his clients. It is a pleasure to watch someone so dedicated to his or her work.

God’s original intention for work is summarized by the Hebrew meaning for “work” used in Genesis 2:15—a joyous, liberating service to God.  So my definition for vocation or calling is our God-given giftedness, the passions which bring us joy and fulfillment. As Ecclesiastes 3:13 states,

“Everyone should eat and drink and find pleasure in their toil for this is God’s gift to man.”

Assembly Line WorkerThe first people filled with God’s Spirit in Scripture were artisans. These artists were gifted to create “with skill, ability and knowledge of all kinds of crafts . . . to engage all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:2-5). People used their God-given gifts (26:2) of artistic design (35:32) and abilities of intelligence, knowledge, and craftsmanship (35:31) who could also teach (35:34) and who were stirred to do the work (36:2).

So we appreciate people who are good at their craft. We value homemakers who prepare families for their day, farmers who encourage the soil to produce our food, manufacturers who create products we use, accountants who corral spending, making us live within our means, police officers who stop lawbreakers, managers who coordinate work, teachers who organize learning, coaches who develop skills, doctors who help healing, lawyers who oversee regulations, artists who craft creation, and students who control subjects.

I will never forget the bar owner who was joyous in his work. The experience taught me that every person’s vocation, loading truckscalling, their work, is a gift given by God, intended for our benefit.

And if you need book boxes, now you know where to go.

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Dr. Mark Eckel is Professor of Leadership, Education & Discipleship at Capital Seminary & Graduate School, Washington, D.C. He and his wife Robin live in Fishers, Indiana sharing their God-given gifts with Crossroads Community Church. You can listen here to the audio presentation from the men’s January 31st retreat.

 

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  1. The joy of vocation!!!! It is great when you find that which brings you fulfillment; that work that is a production of everything that makes you who you are. It is in vocation that our greatest worship The Lord is visible. It is in vocation that we are truly an asset to the body of Christ. Great post.

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