Today my thoughts are on the parable of the workers in the vineyard:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went at daybreak to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them to his vineyard. He went out about the third hour [and hired more laborers without naming the price except in terms of fairness] ... Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hours, and did the same. ... Around the eleventh hour, he went out and found others ... When evening came [he paid them all the amount agreed for those who worked a full day. Some complained.] And he answered, "Friend, I do you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for the denarius? ... Are you envious because I am generous?" (Matthew 20:1-16 excerpts)
God is generous. From this parable I gather there is no second-rate heaven for those who were slow to enter the kingdom of heaven, or those who were slow to find their calling. All who answered that call are welcome: fully welcome. The kingdom of heaven is not a kingdom where we keep score against each other, and look down on some who started late or did less (and have others look down on us if they started earlier or did more). Heaven is not a place where there is status, or better-than, among those welcomed by God. Heaven is a place of fellowship, where we all enjoy God's generosity.
The parable gets its element of surprise from being described as an earthly workplace. Whether we have a daily rate, an hourly rate, or an annual rate, we are paid for our time. Some people play that game by angling for a better rate for our time. Others play that game by angling for more time on the clock. Regardless of how a worker plays the game, the amount is in the control of the owner. The kingdom of heaven is not about being the hardest-working. It is about knowing the one in control is honest and generous. No one who sets foot in that vineyard has any risk of being treated as less than another -- at least not by the owner. May I set aside my tendency to count and account, when there is an opportunity to see someone enjoy God's generosity.