A month or two ago, I had the privilege of sitting down with an elderly couple and talking with them about life. The one spouse is in pretty ill health and so they are confined and unable to do much of what they did in the past. Several times during the conversation, one of them mentioned how they used to enjoy visiting people like themselves and how often they would do this. I think it is very hard for them to be a “visitee” rather than the “visitor”… as it would be for most of us, I guess.
In the course of the conversation, it came up how few visitors they actually have. Even after they spent so much time visiting in the past. My heart grew just a bit sad for them as I contemplated them sitting alone, day after day, unable to go much of anywhere, due to circumstances beyond their control.
This conversation has been much on my mind since it occurred. Why don’t more people visit the elderly, the sick, and the shut-ins? Why is this relegated only to the official “clergy” when it is something any of us could do? What is keeping us from this act of love and kindness?
As I have been pondering over this, I have recognized that it could be because there is no immediate reward for this type of service. While feeding the poor, taking care of orphans, being a social media influencer for Christ or doing some other public thing often yields much praise and fanfare from the church; other acts of love, such as being a full-time mommy, care-taking, visiting the sick and the elderly, teaching Sunday School, making meals for others, witnessing to someone at work, and a whole host of other “behind-the scenes” services, don’t tend to yield the praise of men.
So this makes us naturally believe (wrongly) that these services may not be as important. Often, it is not even that we are consciously thinking this. It is just what our experiences teaches us: If a service yields the praise of men, it must be important. If it doesn’t, it must be unimportant.
But, truly, nothing could be further from the truth. Thankless jobs that yield no applause are often the most important!
God tells us in His Word that we are all needed to make the body of Christ run as it should–
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? (I Corinthians 12:15-19)
Each of us is given a different role in the body and this is a wonderful thing! If we were all a foot or an eye, how could the body of Christ even function? Some people are called to minister in very public ways and they are often truly an inspiration to us! Others are called to behind-the scenes jobs that go unnoticed. Both of these people are important in God’s eyes and necessary to keep the body of Christ functioning as it should.
We also find out in scripture that God has specifically prepared good works for us beforehand—
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
God knows our strengths and weaknesses. He gave us our talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts. He knows what we are good at and where we can be used best in the Body. And that’s what we are supposed to be doing.
Many years ago now, when my youngest daughter was about twelve, she really wanted us to adopt. While we were not quite ready for that, we did decide that perhaps we could do some fostering so we enrolled in a short-term program to care for kids. When we got our first (and only) placement, it was incredibly difficult. Now, I am not scared of difficult. Many times, the path we are to walk on is difficult. However, it was more than that. I just felt in my heart like this was not what I was “cut out to do”. And I felt incredibly guilty about that. Shouldn’t everyone be cut out to take in children? Was I simply being selfish?
I eventually figured out that, no, everyone is not called to that ministry. And that this is as God has designed it. Because there are so many other just-as-important things to do for God’s Kingdom. While I have great admiration for those of you who are called to foster and adopt children or are passionately serving the poor and sharing the Gospel with them, it took me awhile to understand that there are so many of you, quietly serving the Lord in ways I will never know, who are doing jobs just as important. We need to pray and ask the Lord to show us what He wants us to do. Where He wants us to be serving right now– today– and then do it as Colossians 3:23 says: heartily and as unto God, not unto men.
And, in doing what God has set before us to do, we are promised to be prepared! In fact it says we will be filled with all grace abounding towards us, always having all sufficiency in all things to do what God has called us to do. That is quite a promise, now, isn’t it?!? Paul puts it like this in 2 Corinthians 9–
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
A few months ago I was feeling a bit at a loss. Am I still doing anything good with this tiny little corner on the internet? Should I be working on something “bigger” and “better”? In talking with my wise mother (whom I am still so blessed to have in my life for counsel and guidance!), she reminded me of the value of building into the lives of my grandchildren and the importance of supporting my children as they seek to raise children for Christ.
It was a very clarifying conversation. I didn’t need bigger and better. I just need to be faithful in what God has called me to do right now. Today. And, until He shows me differently, this calling is spending time with my grandchildren, helping my husband with our landscaping business, teaching Bible Studies, and writing to encourage the saints at a tiny, unknown blog called Growing4Life. That’s what God has for me today. I don’t need to be searching for anything bigger or better or something that yields the acclamation of men. I just need to be faithful with the things that God has for me to do on this day. And to be willing to do what He has for me tomorrow.
What does God have for you to do today? It may be adopting orphans or feeding the poor. But it may be something else. Something just as important but much less public.
May we seek the Lord in how He would have us serve Him and then may we go about it with much joy and perseverance, knowing that we are doing it for God and not for men. May we just faithfully do the next thing God has given us to do. Be it big or little.