A man in the middle ages became fed up with humanity and decided to spend the rest of his life in a monastery. The abbot warned him that he would have to take a vow of silence and live the rest of his life as a scribe, to which the man replied, “No problem. I’m sick of talking.”
Ten years went by, and the abbot called for the man. He told him that he was a model monk and perfect scribe, and that they were very happy to have him. As per their tradition, he was allowed to say two words. Asked if he had anything to say, the man nodded and said, “Food cold.”
The abbot sent him on his way. Ten years later, he was brought before the abbot again and once again told how pleased they were with his performance, and that he was again allowed two more words if he so chose. The man said, “Bed hard,” and was sent back to work.
Another ten years went by, and again the abbot sent for the man, telling him that he was the best monk they had ever had, and that he was allowed another two words. The man nodded and said, “I quit.”
To this the abbot replied in a disgusted tone, “Doesn’t surprise me. You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”
Which brings me to myweek. After preaching on the subject of whining and complaining last Sunday, it seems as if I’ve had more frustrating situations arise to complain about this week than normal, and plenty of opportunity to practice what I preached–by not complaining. Of course, I also know from the book of Numbers that God is not a big fan of “murmuring,” and I’m not a big fan of being consumed by fire, or snakes, or or having the ground open up and swallow me for my whining.
But more than that, I’d just like to enjoy my life, and I’ve discovered that a general attitude of dissatisfaction with all that is wrong in my world will sure suck the joy right out of life. James MacDonald said is this way:“Complaining is an attitude choice that if left unchecked will kill my capacity to experience joy and genuine thankfulness.”
So there it is again: complaining is a choice, and I can choose notto complain, regardless of my circumstances. I think I’ll choose joy, and thankfulness, and contentment, and see the half-full glass, instead of whining, grumbling, murmuring and seeing the negative side of life. Who’s with me?
I am sure grateful for the privilege of pastoring such a great church, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.