Monday, October 21, 2013

Being a Servant...

I'm returning today to one of the three remaining "Made for Living"
columns I found in the bottom of my study closet in a plastic
envelope, reminders of my life at another time, in another place...
kind of like looking in on someone else- who, it turns out, much
to my surprise, was me.This column was published in February 7,
1985.

The week had taken its toll. A week of caring for a husband sick with the
flu. A week of daily trips to a Miami hospital to visit and care for our young
Salvadoran guest. A week of servanthood. And I was tired! Physically tired,
emotionally drained, exhausted from the exertion of giving myself hour
after hour to those around me. Tired of serving! And I still had this column
to write.
 
I was finding smiling difficult, instead feeling constantly on the verge of
tears. And I could feel my resolve to place myself in God's hands to do
God's work weakening, as my tired body and mind rebelled. It would be
nice to have someone serve me for change.
 
And then, in the midst of my sulk, I started thinking about the book I was
re-reading, entitled Disciple. Written by Juan Carlos Ortiz, it speaks about
the role of the Christian as a servant. The author states over and over again
that when we become bearers of the name of the Christ, we are also
submitting to his authority and his way of life. And that is the way of
servanthood.
 
So much of what Ortiz wrote made sense to me and convicted me to my
very core. I had not been called to a life of ease and idleness. Rather, I
had been called to use all that I had been given in the way of time, talents,
and possessions in the work the Lord had planned for me to do. And God
had promised to never ask me to do more than I had also been given the
ability and strength to handle...with God. Never alone. Never just on my
own steam. Always hand in hand with this loving God.
 
"Oh, God," I silently prayed, "please guide me and give me words to say
to these readers, words which will bring meaning and love to them.
Help me as I sit at my typewriter to bring a caring message." And then
I noticed a piece of mail on the kitchen counter. It was a newsletter from
a Christian organization and the cover caught my eye for it was a drawing
of the "Praying Hands" by Albrecht Durer. And on the back was the story
of how this famous drawing had come into being.
 
Durer lived in the latter part of the fifteenth century. While he was studying
art, he and a fellow student and good friend both worked as laborers to
pay their tuition costs. But it was very difficult, both working and studying
art. Rather than have both of them fail at their studies, the friend, Franz
Knigstein, agreed to continue working as a laborer, while Durer attended
school. Durer promised to return the favor when he had become a
successful artist.
 
Much time passed, as Durer developed his potential genius and finally he
returned to keep his promise to Knigstein, who was overjoyed at the success
of his friend. But Durer soon realized that the years of labor had taken
their toll on Knigstein. The man's fingers had become so bent and twisted
that he could no longer hold and manipulate a paintbrush. He could never
become the artist he had hoped to be, nor could Durer ever fulfill the
promise he had made to his friend.
 
One night, as Knigstein knelt in prayer, Durer sorrowfully sketched the
crippled hands of the friend who had made his success possible by giving
up his own life's dreams. Thus, Durer's "Praying Hands" became a
tribute to the spirit of love and sacrifice to which the life of Knigstein
had become a testimony.
 
The words of John 15:13 came to mind: Greater love has no one than
this, than he/she lay down their life for their friends. This was true
servanthood, true sacrifice. Knigstein had indeed "laid down his life"
for his friend, giving up his own hopes and dreams, his own life in a
very real sense, in order that his friend might fully live his.
 
Once again, a loving God had shown me that he would indeed be with
me to give me all the support I needed to complete the tasks placed
in my life. Once again, God had provided inspiration, love, and guidance
when I felt at the end of my rope. Once again, God had led me to the
realization that who and what I am depends on the place I am willing
to give the Holy One in my life.
 
A song is running through my mind now. And the words? "I am a
servant, I am listening for your call..." Speak, Lord, your servant is
listening.

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