During the economic hiccup of 1996, I worked as maintenance technician for one of Dallas's fine swimming pool companies. Prior to this necessity, I never had any previous experience of manual labor except for a few skirmishes with garden work.
The code was sterling. My assignments were all located in the snooty Highland Park. The new mansion of Deion Sanders (#21 Dallas Cowboys) was on my clean list.
I would leave home at 5:00 am and be done with 12 swimming pools by 2:00 pm. I would then proceed to Dallas Seminary for my PhD course work.
Work seemed relatively easy until one stormy night. Since most of my pools were ornate, trees were plenty. There was a concerted test the following day. Thick leaves carpeted my work to a degree of impossibility. That entire day, I had no room for breakfast or lunch and on through dinner. At 9:00 pm, I was still vacuuming my last pool. As I slumped bone tired behind the wheel, my hands shook wild. My head throbbed while thoughts of pity cascaded. I began railing at God for putting me through such a trying day, while my peers were busy engaged in white-collared library work.
God does not buy drama. He was quick to redirect my heart. I was reminded of Paul who was given the privilege of emaciating work in order to facilitate Christ's news. If I was on to training, there was no other option but imitation.
As I drove home that night, I restocked my allegiance. I vowed to restart with holy fury. I reported early and had a talk with the boss:
Mr. Volholzer: It was pretty rough last night, huh?
Me: It was a nightmare but I made it through. I do have a request, though ...
Mr. Volholzer: You are not quitting, right?
Me: No, I'm not. May you please increase my training so that I can be your best pool cleaner?
Mr. Volholzer: What did you just say?
He went on to take me seriously as I sought God's grace to turn my menial work into stamps of holy demonstrations. I never left any of my assignments without signing my name. I gained a reputation for extreme clean and was dubbed "The Asian Guy."
It was not too long thereafter, the Lord took me from the waters and into the pond. Now that I serve as fisher of men, I look back at the gift of hard labor and the ease of grace that ushered me through.