I received a nice response to my “baler” blog. The responder said he remembered the bales could weigh up to 100lbs. That is possible because I was obviously much stronger then. I could unload two ton of coal with a coal shovel tossing the coal over my head in about 45 minutes. I could throw a case of dynamite over my shoulder and carry it up a ladder with no issue. If memory serves, the dynamite cases couldn’t weigh more than 50 lbs by Union rule, but I could carry them. Many on my crew had them lifted with a hoist to where they needed to go. In high school my job was to shovel snow at the junior high and we could get two feet of snow overnight. The area I shoveled, I was told, was the equivalent of eight city blocks. I remember getting up at three in the morning to have enough time to shovel the snow before I went to school. I do not remember school ever being cancelled because of weather.

The reason I bring this up is not because of my ability but because it was assumed that I could do these things, by me and everyone else. My uncles didn’t let me ride on the wagon and stack because I was a kid, but I walked and lifted the bales because I was young and could do it. It made no difference if the were 50 or 100 lb. bales No adult showed up at 3 in the morning to make sure I could handle shoveling 2 feet of snow.

Now I’m in the position of having to think about what I can lift and when. It is frustrating to not be able to handle the barbecue gas tank or a quart of milk at certain times of the day. I can’t assume anything right now and it can be frustrating.

This is not a macho contest or a strength and fitness challenge. It is not a worry that it is God’s punishment as the psalmist seems to worry about in Psalm 71 – “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” It is more like the frustration exhibited by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12. Requesting relief from a thorn in the flesh he gets a promise that God’s strength is perfect in Paul’s weakness. Paul uses a particular word, “asthenia”, meaning a weakness that makes for a kind of dependency. Paul needed his helpers. He needed his cloak fetched, and books returned. He needed folks to write for him otherwise his letters would be huge (some think the thorn in his flesh was a kind of blindness), he needed many things and often “helpers failed and comforts fled”. Yet God prevailed and Paul was more than a conquerer.

I have many folks that want to help and have put themselves out for me. It is a blessing and a frustration trying to find words that can express a deep sense of gratitude.  I guess it could be described as a weakness too.