Fulfilling Its Function
The Corner Mailbox
During these challenging times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many people can feel the hurt of being isolated and alone. The danger is that we can lose sight of God’s call and purpose for our life. Even during lonely and difficult times, we should be reminded that we are connected to God’s eternal kingdom that is steadily advancing.
Vance Havner was an itinerant evangelist and prolific writer who died in 1986. One of his devotionals has an encouraging message for us today. This devotional is entitled, “The Corner Mailbox.”
It was just an ordinary, unattractive corner mailbox, not much to look at. If it had been anything else I would not have noticed it, but, being what it was, it was the object of my search. I was not looking for it because it was beautiful or because it was one of the scenic attractions. It did not appear deserving of much consideration, but when I reached it, I entrusted to its care a very precious thing, a letter to my beloved.
Now, I would not have deposited such a valuable missive just anywhere. I would not have banded it over to a policeman or left it with the newsboy. I would not even have given it to the bank. A bank is a much more impressive thing than a mailbox, and we do commit some very important things to their keeping, but here I was passing all these places looking for a plain little old mailbox.
The mailbox is important, not because of what it is in itself, but because it belongs to, and is part of, something greater than itself. It is a unit in the great Postal System, and I knew that, although that little mailbox, unassisted, could never deliver my letter to my beloved, it was part of a great movement that could.
Which set me thinking as I strolled on down the street. You and I are not much in ourselves, but when we get into the will of God and become part of His great purpose, we assume an importance and share a responsibility infinitely beyond ourselves. This poor little mailbox could not get letters across the country and around the world, but it was part of something that could. When we yield to God and become co-workers and units in His great program, we become bearers of precious messages, channels of heavenly blessings, recipients of eternal grace, stewards of treasure in earthen vessels. Foolish things, weak and base, things that are not, all this we are in ourselves, but once we enter into the plan and purpose of God, we assume a priceless value because of Him whose we are and Whom we serve.
This mailbox, set out in a field somewhere, disconnected from its system would be useless. It would neither receive nor transmit that stream of human communication for which it is made. Just so, many a life out of God's will, isolated and alone, living for self and none beside, just as if Jesus had never lived, just as if He'd never died, such a life can never be blessed nor be a blessing.
But look at the mailbox again. Suppose it complained and grumbled, "Why did they ever set me on this dirty corner? I wanted so much to be up on the boulevard, among the bright lights and the fine shops, and here I am stuck in this dark, drab spot." But if it is in line with the postal system, it can fulfill its function just the same, and the location doesn't make an awful lot of difference.
Do these lines fall under the eye of one who is restless, murmuring, inwardly wondering why God ever set you on such a corner? Are you tied down to drudgery, working among uncongenial companions, trying to preach in an unappreciative parish, or, maybe, an invalid sentenced to pass your days between bed sheets? Do not complain. There must be mailboxes on some dark corners, and when the final count is made, perhaps the Great Postmaster will reward some obscure out-station for meritorious service beyond the intake and output up on the avenue. Stop being fretful and start being faithful over even a few things, and you will be in line for heaven’s promotion (The Best of Vance Havner, reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980).