About this Series: One of the characteristics of my personality is that I love to tell stories (not lies). I think I acquired this from the way that I grew up. In my childhood days we use to sit around and listen to my father, mother, uncles, aunts, and other adults tell about various events from their day. Those stories were often true, sometimes exaggerated, exciting, funny, sometimes sad and would you believe that many of those stories and the practice of telling these stories are still inside me.
What’s interesting about these stories is that most all of them always had some sort of lesson for life in them. Over the years as I unconsciously picked up this practice of telling stories based on things that happened no matter how insignificant they seemed at the time. I found that there are so many lessons for life just in the simple things of life. These lessons can drive into our hearts biblical truths that enable us to better live our lives for Jesus. I thought that it might be encouraging for some to get some spiritual insight for living just from the simple things in life. So here we go!
Lesson Learned From Some Old Concrete Workers: I Got It!
Way back in June 1978 I finished my enlistment in the Marine Corps. After I got home I needed to work so I went to work with a man from my neighborhood who was a concrete finisher. He was up in age and so were some of the men that worked with him. My first day on the job he had the contract to pour the concrete floor for a large building. On the way to the job I very distinctly remembered going over in my mind that I would never allow an old man to out work me. I determined on the way to work to be the very best worker on the job.
Once we got to the job they explained to me what I had to do. Since I have no experience with concrete I was the laborer. My job was to haul concrete in a wheelbarrow from one side of the building to the other. As soon as the first truck arrived and was prepared to unload the concrete I stood by the concrete chute ready to take the concrete across the building to the finishers. The truck poured out this heavy substance. It filled the wheel barrow and away I went across the floor, holding the wheelbarrow high because I was a young strong man and able to work at an unprecedented pace, or so I thought.
The old concrete worker who hired me, Herman Stone said to me. “Don’t walk so fast with that concrete! I said to him, “I got it!” Then he said to me, “You are holding that wheelbarrow too high.” I said to him, “I got it!” Next he said, “you’re not going to be able to work all day moving that fast!” I said to him, “I got it!”
Then another worker said, “Leave him alone. He’s got it!”
Then another worker asked the others, “do you all think he’s got it?”
They all said, “yeah! He’s got it!”
At the time they were working kind of slow. Little did I know that as they worked they would pick up the pace. Now they had two wheelbarrows on the job. One stayed with the truck and the other one was the one that I carried across the floor. As soon as I got back with the empty wheelbarrow the other was already full so there was no rest in between carrying loads. This took place in the middle of July.
Those skilled professional workers who had been utilizing their skills for their entire lives were about to teach me a lesson that is still with me today. They began working faster.
As they worked they talked and laughed. Interesting is that their conversation was all about me. They began to have fun at my expense. Here is sort of how their conversation went.
Do you all think he’s going to work out? Yeah! He’s got it! Look like he’s slowing down. Is he giving out of gas? No! He’s got it! Look at him go. He’s still going. He’s got it!
By this time I had been working only about an hour. I looked up and there were two or three more concrete trucks in line waiting to empty their load of concrete into my wheel barrow.
I wasn’t saved then but I called on the Lord. I said Oh Lord I’m in trouble. Now remember that Mr. Stone told me to quit lifting the wheelbarrow so high. Well I was wearing down fast. My clothes were soaking wet with sweat. My eyes had turned red. I soon stumbled over the wire on the floor and wasted a load of concrete. One of the men shouted, Are you all right? Before I could answer another one said, “Yeah! He’s alright!” “He’s got it!”
Another one said it doesn’t look he’s got it. Another one said, Yeah he’s got it! He’s a good worker! Don’t Y’all see he’s got it. They were laughing their tails off at my expense.
Now the real problem that I had was that I was too prideful to say that I needed help. In addition, when they were first trying to show me how to use a wheelbarrow and pace myself I wouldn’t listen. I had no idea that there was a method to using a wheelbarrow that would prevent me from getting tired and worn out. Right after that I was standing at the concrete truck and holding the wheelbarrow as the concrete was being poured out and the wheelbarrow and I fell over right at the truck. This started another round of conversation and laughter with the men talking loud enough for me to hear with all of the conversation leading to the one statement. He’s got it!
I was getting weaker, slower, and felt like I was going to pass out.
By God’s grace (whom I didn’t know at the time) I managed to make it to lunch.
For maybe the first time in my life I chose to sleep during lunch instead of eating.
While I was lying down Mr. Stone set beside me and he said these words. Now you can listen to me if you want but working the way you are you won’t last long. You have to work the work instead of letting the work work you. One thing you are doing wrong is that you are lifting the wheelbarrow. We don’t lift the wheel barrow. We hold it and push it with our legs. Next you’re trying to move too fast. Just keep a steady pace. By then I was embarrassed and broken but I listened. When it was time to go back to work I allowed him to show me how to work and I listened.
God has so wonderfully given us instructions for life and godliness. Often our pride gets in the way and we refuse to listen to Him or follow His instructions by faith in obedience. This causes great pain and difficulty in living even for some to the point of giving up on life.
You see when it comes to living none of us have it. I didn’t have it hauling concrete nor do I have it living life. What I do know is that Jesus Christ has it all and knows all. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a loving, merciful, and compassionate Savior who still reaches out to us and desires to show us the way. Proverbs 29:1 states, He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I had no regard for the skill that those men possessed. I assume that by my youth and strength and power that I could do better than they. I thought that I had it.
By the end of the day one thing that I learned was that I needed to learn from men who have been that way before. Jesus lived the life that we couldn’t live and showed us how to live, love, and serve one another. Pride is that thing in us that elevates us over Jesus and says, “I got it!” We must willingly and eagerly submit to His will so that as we go through life we do so in a way that makes it easier to live and glorify Him.
It took a group of old concrete workers to teach me lessons that would later benefit me as a Christian. I learned to esteem others more highly than myself. I learned that pride indeed comes before a fall. The most humble lesson that I learned is that I don’t have it. All I have is Jesus and in Him I have everything pertaining to life and godliness.