A Tale of Two Messengers


A messenger service hired Rob and Rich, two good friends who had a much in common in life. The messenger service was peerless, and Rob and Rich both realized how blessed they were to have new positions with the company.

What made the messenger service so successful was its training. The corporate guide the company president created was lauded in the industry. In addition, the company president outfitted each worker with the best tools available, ones he had perfected himself, and workers who fully embraced the guide, training, and tools became the best messengers in the world.

In time, both Rob and Rich ascended to the top of their class during their training. Rob, in particular, was enthralled by the corporate guide and prided himself on the fact that he had memorized it. Rich also knew the guide well.

The day came for graduation and their first courier assignment. Rob and Rich’s supervisor called them both into his office.

“Rob, I need you to go to 717 Sycamore Street and deliver these architectural blueprints for the new elementary school to Mr. Zacchaeus at Jonas Brothers & Associates,” the supervisor said.

Rob stood in place whispering to himself.

“Rob,” the supervisor said, “son, did you hear me?”

The whispering continued, so the supervisor went over to the newly charged messenger and repeated his instructions. Nothing.  Unnerved, he bent closer to hear what Rob was whispering to himself. The words were well known to the supervisor: the step by step instructions of the corporate guide.

“Son?” the supervisor asked.

No reply.

Frustrated, the supervisor turned to Rich and said, “What’s with your friend?”

Rich turned to Rob and said, “Hey, Rob, we’re getting our instructions. Pay attention.”

“Everything I need to know to do my job is in the corporate guide,” Rob answered, as if waking up.

“Yes, it can fully equip you to be a fantastic messenger,” Rich acknowledged.

“‘A good messenger never diverts from the optimum path to delivery,’ Entry 172a,” Rob replied.

“That’s true,” Rich said, “but our supervisor is trying to tell you where that delivery goes.”

“He is? Where?”

“717 Sycamore Street,  blueprints for the new elementary school, Mr. Zacchaeus at Jonas Brothers & Associates,” Rich said.

Rob went back to whispering entries from the guide.

“Rob?” Rich asked.

“There’s no entry for that in the guide,” Rob said, exasperation creeping into his voice.

Rich replied, “But we can’t do our job if we don’t take the rules of the guide and use them together with with what our supervisor tells us.”

“How do we know we can trust him?” Rob asked.

“He represents the company president—”

“—and I wrote the guide together with him and with his son,” the supervisor said. “Can’t you recognize that voice of authority? Now, do you want to hear me out on this specific job or not?”

Once again, Rob went back to reciting the guide as if the supervisor were not present. “‘Treat each recipient with respect,’ Entry 202d. ‘Always maintain a smiling face and extend your hand warmly to whomever greets you,’ Entry 202e.”

The supervisor turned to Rich. “You got my instructions, son?”

“Yes, sir, Jonas Brothers.”

“Good. Thank you for listening. Make me proud.”

It was said on that day that no one delivered a package more effectively than Rich did those blueprints. In the course of his time with the company, he received numerous Employee of the Month honors, became the personal assistant to the supervisor, and received the most generous retirement in the company’s history.

Of Rob it was said that he gave excellent tours of the company headquarters. And no one could stump him on the contents of the corporate guide. But he never made a single delivery.

10 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Messengers

  1. Mike the Geologist

    Dan: A few moments ago I finished reading the comments on the blog about the “Jesus Calling” review. I so appreciated your comments in that discussion, they were balanced and biblical. So I thought I’d pop over to your blog and hit your “contact me” and ask you to expand on that discussion with your own blog post. Well, your “Tale of Two Messengers” just blew me away. Sometimes story telling is just the best way to make the point. Jesus certainly thought so time and time again. Again, I really appreciate your insights through your blogging, they’ve helped me tremendously.

    • Thanks, Mike.

      I must say with all truthfulness, I do not understand the Robs of this world. I don’t know how they live. It seems strange to me. Nor do I understand how they think. They have an inner logic that doesn’t seem logical. I find obvious inconsistencies, and when I point them out, my noting is ignored, as they move onto something else. I’ve given up trying to engage in those conversations, as the problems I raise merely get shoved aside, as if they make no difference. People get set in their ways, and they end up losing out on so much.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Dan,

    A bit off topic but I’d like your thoughts. What do you think about the increasing popularity of praising contentment with disease? To me, I can understand why it seems commendable, but it also seems very foreign to Scripture at best (and disobedient to God’s prescription at worst: Jam. 5:14-15).

    • Clint,

      There is a faux humility spreading out there among people who seem to embrace the title of sinner, talk about how weak they are, and seem to love suffering. That seems so anti-Gospel that I am at a loss to explain it. If the following doesn’t rebuke that mentality, I don’t know what does:

      And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
      —Mark 10:46-50

      The group you describe are the same kind of people as those who told Bartimaeus to shut up and be happy with his blindness.

  3. Gideon Otieno

    Talk about perspective! Parables still work in this day and age; well told, Dan. Now I have a way to communicate to the ‘Robs’ without coming accross as some rude, unwilling-to-memorize-and-spew-scripture, possibly-demon-possessed, ‘Christian’! I am encouraged.

  4. SJLC

    What are the best Bible verses you can think of for conveying this same message, urging Christians to be receptive to specific instructions from the Spirit? Hopefully including something about “hearing” rather than just quotes about “walking in the Spirit”, because other people at my church mostly have a different idea of what “walking in the Spirit” means and Paul didn’t define it explicitly.

    • SJLC,

      I would encourage everyone to read through the entire Book of Acts in one sitting. It’s filled with people listening to God for directions on how to fulfill normal Christian duty. The story of Ananias and Saul, Philip and the eunuch, the commissioning of Paul and Barnabas—those are just a few obvious ones. You can’t make those mean anything else than what they depict: Holy Spirit-filled people responding to the prompting of God. It’s how we’re supposed to live. Cut that off, and we’ve lost a vital means for practicing the Faith as it was intended.

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