Story of the Day for Friday June 15, 2012
Combining Creativity and Innocence
Be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.
When Peter Mayle and his wife moved from England to southern France, they bought a quaint old house. The house needed major repairs, so they hired various local construction workers.
The Mayles soon became acquainted with the relaxed, Mediterranean view of time. Workers would disappear from the job for weeks – even months.
This didn’t overly concern the Mayles during the hot summer months. But as November started pushing toward December, the construction was still unfinished.
Then, Peter’s wife had an idea. She invited all the construction workers to attend their Christmas party – to celebrate the completion of their home remodeling. But – and this was genius – she invited the construction workers wives as well.
Peter Mayle, in his book, A Year in Provence, explained that “no wife would want her husband to be the one not to have finished his part of the work. This would cause loss of face among the other wives and public embarrassment, followed by some ugly recriminations in the car on the way home.”
Within two days, Mayle says, the cement mixer was back in action, and the carpenters were back on the job. All of the projects were completed before the Christmas party.
I’m not sure if, as a Christian, I’m supposed to like this story. Maybe we shouldn’t appeal to people’s baser motives. All the same, I find Mrs. Mayle’s solution to their dilemma absolutely delightful.
We don’t have to look for trouble in this world. Trouble will find us. And when we are called to suffer persecution, Jesus tells us to be as harmless as doves.
Yet, all the same, he wants us to be shrewd.
I can’t think of a disciple in the Bible who endured more torments than the apostle Paul. He never flinched from suffering.
Yet, when Paul stood on trial before the Jewish high council, he made a shrewd move. He knew the council was composed of Pharisees (who believed in the resurrection of the dead), and Sadducees (who didn’t believe in heaven or hell). So, when he stood up to defend himself, he mentioned that he was raised a Pharisee and was standing trial because of his hope in the resurrection of the dead.
The Pharisees immediately sprang to his defense, and soon the judges were in a heated uproar. Paul had cleverly divided the council.
Somewhere between slapping people with lawsuits and suffering needlessly, with our tail between our legs, there is a middle ground. And, in that place, we are called to combine all the creativity and innocence that the Spirit provides.