Saturday, September 10, 2011

Unqualified

The paper had an advertisement that made me pause. As I age, gracefully of course, I have noticed that the people around me don't talk as clearly or loudly as they used to. Sometimes they are mumbling whole sentences so that I am not sure if they are saying, "Isn't that a beautiful sky tonight!" or "Aren't you a pitiful sight tonight?"  As you can imagine, my attitude towards others may be compromised by what I think they are saying.

But the article showed a little microscopic gadget you put in your ear, and the advertiser claimed remarkable and instantaneous hearing. What made it especially compelling is they would pay 47 people with hearing loss to try this device for free! All I would have to do was have my hearing tested (for free again!) and then wear the device and report to them on my remarkable new hearing skills.

As a young child, I had multiple ear infections. I had, what they called back then, "swimmers ear." I was fortunate enough that I didn't even need to go swimming to get it. I would get it from baths, or even sometimes rain storms. My ear canal didn't slope as much as the lucky people who are normal, and so the water wouldn't drain out of my ears, but pool and collect, build a nice petri dish of bacteria, and then blossom into a painful infection. Unlike the millions of young people today who are destroying their hearing listening to iPods at the volume of a jet engine in an echo chamber, I never listened to loud music. So I suspect swimmers ear was the cause of my slowly eroding auditory capapability.

Later that day, Asherel must have seen the article on the table, and asked me, "Are you going to try out for that hearing loss job?"

Job try outs reign prominently in our home these days. Arvo has been plugging away for eight weeks now, looking for a job. This is a dismal economy in which to conduct a job search. My son Matt, as a second year law student, has had a flurry of job interviews for the highly competitive summer internships.  For both these dear men, there are too many qualified people, and too little wonderful jobs out there. Both had interviews yesterday morning, and now we are all waiting hopefully for the results. So, it was understandable that Asherel would refer to the hearing aid research study as a "hearing loss job." Jobs are on all our minds.

If only it were our inadequacies that would secure us good employment! I would then be highly qualified for a whole lot more positions than just being excellently hard of hearing. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the employment postings:
Top paying job for only the most incompetent, lazy, perpetually late, complaining, ignorant, uneducated buffoons. Please, only serious and qualified applicants considered.

In a sense, that is how God advertises. Remember how the King of Israel who would succeed King Saul was chosen? The prophet Samuel was to go to a large family, a brave family to be sure, but still just a family of shepherds, nomads.And he was not to go to a powerful city, filled with prominent well known citizens. He was to go to the puny, insignificant town of Bethlehem.  And even then, God did not direct Samuel to choose the tallest, or the strongest, or the most handsome, or the most skilled. He was told to ignore all those fine  brothers of the family. Those qualities did not interest God.
"Isn't there another?" asked God's spokesman, Samuel.
Another? Have you ever considered how really funny that is? All those strapping, handsome, strong, and able young men with qualification for King oozing out of them, and Samuel looks past them, peering around.
"No," he says, " Isn't there someone smaller, younger, and less prepared....say one who is so insignificant that all he does is care for sheep and carry water for all you highly qualified kingly material?"
(This is a slight paraphrase, but the general gist of it is faithful to the text.)

At first, the brothers think he is joking, and they all dig each other in the ribs and guffaw. But Samuel is serious. He is seemingly seeking the least qualified.But the most telling verse is after David is chosen to succeed King Saul, and after Samuel anoints him. Then, the spirit of the Lord comes upon him, and that changes everything.

Over and over again, I am hearing the message that what we are before God doesn't matter so much as who we become when God calls us. If we are anointed and called by Him to do something, then He will cover our inadequacies. It is easy to step out in faith to do a job we have no doubt we can handle...but then, we don't really need God. I think the message of the Gospel is: do not fear what we cannot do, what we cannot control, what we fear we cannot be. Trust and Believe God, and all things are possible.

"So are you applying for this hearing loss job?" repeated Asherel, a little more loudly.
"No," I said, "I'm overqualified."

1 Samuel 16

 1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
   The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
 4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
 5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
   “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
   Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
   Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.

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