A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
I can tell you a thing or two about being a doorkeeper.
When I moved to New York City at the age of twenty-one, I found a job as a doorman at the Blue Sea restaurant in Manhattan. At the time, I sported a little goatee (sorry there’s no picture to show). For work, I wore a garish blue sports coat and had a black officer’s cap—like a chauffeur’s hat, I guess. I would stand at the entrance of the restaurant to greet arriving patrons while holding the door open for them and offering to park their car for free.
Around the corner was a high-rise apartment building where I had permission to park customers’ cars in the underground garage. I would also avail myself of street side parking, hustling to move “my cars” closer to the restaurant whenever a space opened up. Never mind if that space happened to include a fire hydrant!
It could be a stressful job.
For one thing, I frequently got parking tickets, which made their way into the sidewalk trash bin, and I sometimes scraped, or otherwise damaged, the cars in my care. I tended to work at night, and many times I just hoped the owner wouldn’t notice the occasional scratch or dent. Once, I banged up the passenger side of a car pretty good but made sure I stood in front of the damaged door and remained there until the driver’s wife approached and I could open the door for her to get inside. She gave me a very kind smile and made her husband give me a tip. Ahh, the sins of one’s youth!
The restaurant was frequented by many types, including, I suspect, denizens of the underworld. One such was a hefty man with two bodyguards who, when he first saw me, looked me up and down, pulled on my wispy goatee, and patted me on the cheek. “Nice boy,” he said to me à la Vito Corleone.
There were a few perks for us employees, the main one being a free meal. I particularly enjoyed the lobster bisque as a first course, which I savored in quiet dignity at a small table in a corner of the kitchen. However, this was soon removed from my list of culinary options. The restaurant manager, who I always thought had a very sad expression to his face, told me I couldn’t have such rich fare. It was too expensive for a doorman. On the positive side of the ledger, he taught me a few words and expressions in Greek, which I remember to this day.
I did try to be a good worker, but I guess the whole operation was doomed from the start. After all, I wasn’t reporting the damage done to the cars or the “non-existent” parking tickets. One day, I overslept and got to work about an hour late. I was fired on the spot and that ended my experience as a doorkeeper.
It didn’t end my experiences with poverty, however. I later worked as an encyclopedia salesman, a carpenter’s assistant, a dog walker, a courier, and a photographer.
Then about five years after my ignominious departure from the Blue Sea restaurant, I found myself on the other side of the tracks visiting Lyford Cay in the Bahamas, a private resort for the uber wealthy. How did I get there you wonder? Well, life has its twists and turns. My older sister had married a multi-millionaire with a private home on Lyford Cay, and one weekend, I got invited to attend a family get-together on the island.
My brothers, who were more used to the Lyford Cay lifestyle than I was, played tennis at the country club and went water skiing with some high-fliers, while I snorkeled about in a shallow bay and got a bad sunburn. Later that evening, we were all invited to a fancy soirée where, I was told, a European royal was to be in attendance, evidently a young prince. I had been standing in the main parlor a few minutes, looking around uncomfortably, when an elderly gentleman shuffled over to me and took a little bow. “Welcome, your highness,” he said to me most cordially.
An alert socialite (whether or not she was the party hostess, I don’t recall), swooped in to redirect the gentleman to another young man on the far side of the room—the real prince.
Oh well… For a few moments, I was considered a blue blood. I was “in.” I was “up.” I was something. Or was I?
Though I might argue that I was, indeed, destined for royalty (read 1 Peter 2:9), it was not until I came to understand that Jesus had been a real person who walked this earth (the Son of Man) while at the same time being divine (the Son of God), and that he had sacrificed his life for my sins and the sins of the world, that I began to see class and social position in a very different light. Though it’s true I was never inclined much to be a big shot, I was motivated much less in that direction after my conversion to Christ. My desires centered more and more on being like Jesus, who, though a king, was humble and rode on a donkey, even the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
There was a reason he did not enter Jerusalem on a racehorse.
In the early days of my Christian walk, perhaps remembering my time at the Blue Sea restaurant, I thought frequently of being a doorkeeper in God’s house. I found it very comforting to imagine myself sleeping by the Temple entrance after my work shift had ended. Perhaps I was not good enough to enter in, but I would take what I could get. Yes, it is something lowly to be a doorman. Perhaps I was not good enough to enter in, but I would take what I could get. I had been given a job to do and I was going to do it well and honorably. Yes, it may be something lowly to be a doorman. More often than not you are overlooked, underpaid, and underappreciated. But to be near the glory even if only at the doorstep. Ahhh, that’s a wonderful thing to contemplate. It’s better than the treasures of this world. And it gives me great peace.
How about you?
I am still seeking wisdom and direction for my next project. Will you pray for me?
Thank you sincerely,