Of Big and Little Acts of Service

As I shared in yesterday’s post, love compels service … which leads me to a new trail of thoughts.

I wonder, is my dad only interested in the big things that I can do for him? Are the doctors with a dozen years of education who correctly prescribe just the right medication more valuable than the nurse who correctly draws his blood?

Incredibly, just now, while I’m writing this and waiting to board a plane back home, with my dad still in his hospital bed, the flight attendant announced that our plane is having some mechanical issues.

I realize how critically important a good pilot is, but realistically is a good plane mechanic any less essential?

I know that answering my dad’s questions about faith and asking God to hear my cries for mercy truly are valuable acts of service, but do I believe that sitting in silence, holding his hand while he sleeps, is valuable in God’s eyes?

Surely reading Psalm 23 aloud and talking about the hope of Heaven with Jesus is of immense value, but how about cutting up my dad’s food into manageable bites?
Sometimes as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama, it can feel like the daily chores, loading the dishwasher and washing the laundry and cooking the dinner is worthless … and yet I hope that I can do my work as unto the Lord, pointing my children’s eyes to the blessings of dishes and laundry and food … and of work.
Sometimes as a Christian speaker and writer, it can feel like reaching one hurting soul isn’t as important as speaking to the multitudes.
So today, let’s remind ourselves that God values our little acts of love and service, as well as our big ones. He sees us. He cares. And He is able to multiply our fish and loaves and mites and talents as we offer them up to Him.

TWIG

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Of Anger and Temptation

While waiting for Daniel’s game to start last night, I was reviewing several of my scripture memory verses. The Spirit was reminding me of the value of controlling my temper and to remember that He will always give me a way of escape when I’m tempted to sin.

Last night, as we were walking to the parking lot after a rough game, I was sharing with Bill and Daniel these exact verses, encouraging them … and I turned around to see the young umpire walking right behind us, listening. He shared with us that it was his first game working behind home plate. We had a great opportunity to visit with him and encourage him.

Friends, we never know who is listening … but we do know who always is. Ultimately, God is my judge and I want to live according to His rules and for His pleasure, knowing that He is always working for my good.

Is your Life Self-centered, Child-centered, Husband-centered, or God-centered???

This past week, I have been studying Matthew 23 along with the other ladies in my Community Bible Study group. In this passage, Jesus pronounces upon the religious leaders of His day (the scribes and Pharisees) a series of seven woes. Six times Jesus calls these self-righteous men, “hypocrites.” Rather than leading the Israelites to pursue God with pure hearts, these religious leaders had hearts full of greed and self-indulgence, performing law-keeping deeds in order to be seen by others. Ultimately, their lives were SELF-centered, despite any external appearance of GOD-centeredness.

This Tuesday, I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Family Life Today.” In this episode, Dennis Rainey was sharing some words of wisdom with the new “Family Life Today” hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson. Mr. Rainey was explaining how easily most moms can be drawn into a CHILD-centered life, where their “family solar system revolve[s] around the kids.” Such truth in just 7 words.

My mind immediately began drawing a picture of a solar system with my children taking the place of the sun, and my husband and me revolving around them like Earth and Mars.

Mr. Rainey and his wife, Barbara, then shared about the importance of keeping the marriage relationship strong, so that the marriage is prepared to outlast the children. If our world is revolving around our kids, what’s going to happen when they grow up and move out?!

I’m afraid that in an effort to not be child-centered, some marriages, then become husband-centered, where the whole family revolves around making dad happy. Rather than the wife pleasing her husband as an outflow of her allegiance to God, pleasing her husband becomes the very center and focus of her life. This, too, is a messed-up solar system.

In my mind I had a new vision of a solar system. This solar system had my husband and I spinning together, arm-in-arm, while God remained the ever-present enormous shining sun whose gravity held us both. In this solar system, both of our lives revolved around Him, not our kids, and not each other.

Like the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” I began asking myself, “Kim, what is the chief end of your life? What does your life revolve around? What is that gravitational force that holds your life in order? Who is in the center of your life’s solar system?”

Is my primary goal to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”?

Yes. Yes, it is.

TWIG

Sunrise, Sunset

On December 4th, I finished our 2017-2018 family photo album. The final page displayed a background of a beautiful picture of a sunrise in my front yard, and a sunset in the back, accompanied by the lyrics from the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof,

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset!
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears.

The past three weeks have truly been a time laden with both happiness and tears.

Two weeks ago, my oldest son became the first of my four children to marry. My heart is full of great joy and hope for their future as I release my son into adulthood. I thank God for giving us Kristen and putting her into Nick’s life. These two young adults are better together than they are apart. An answer to prayer.

For my 46th birthday last Saturday, my family (minus our newly married son and his bride) watched “Fiddler on the Roof” together at my request. I reminisced about Nick as a three-year-old singing, “If I were a Rich Man” at the top of his lungs into his karaoke machine and dancing around with the best of them. Ever since he was a little boy, we’ve said that Nick would do something with a microphone in his hand. For years I’ve said, “Someday Nick will be a preacher, a singer or a politician!” This time, though, it was me singing along with the wedding scene as the Tevye’s oldest daughter marries under a candle-lit canopy, “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they?”

Sunrise. Sunset. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another. In the twenty years of Nick’s life, we’ve certainly had many seasons. We’ve had seasons of agonizing pain, persevering only by God’s grace through marriage and parenting struggles. And we’ve had seasons of immense joy, celebrating new accomplishments and relationships, granted us also by God’s grace. But this current season we’re in has been such a bizarre mix of pain and joy, that it’s hard to know how to feel at any given moment.

Christmas Eve, the day Nick and Kristen were engaged, was the very day we found out that Kari Coudriet, and three beautiful children who were staying with her family, Sharron, Aaron, and Joy Naik, had passed from time into eternity. Then, two weeks later, the very day Nick and Kristen were married, was the day that Srinivas and Sujatha Naik, their parents from India, shared their hearts with our congregation, and I got to see them for the first time since their children’s deaths.

That morning, I mourned with those who mourn, and that afternoon I rejoiced with those who rejoice. Tears of grief coming, and tears of joy going. Sunrise. Sunset. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Please join me today in praying for the marriages of Nick and Kristen Endraske, and Srinivas and Sujatha Naik. “May your lives be pointed always toward Jesus with hearts full of hope and peace. May your marriages demonstrate how deeply Christ loves His bride, and gave Himself up for her, even while we were His enemies. May God give you long seasons of joy, interspersed with short seasons of hardship, that you would lean on Jesus, savoring the good times, and numbering each day with hearts of wisdom. In the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.”

How can I pray for you and your marriage?