Holly at Seeking Faithfulness has written an absolutely beautiful post about serving. She specifically writes of serving her husband with joy and prayer. It made me think of Jesus. I often tell my children when I catch them doing some act of service, "You remind me of Jesus. He came not to be served, but to serve."
I have been thinking a lot about serving recently. There was a hubbub in the blogosphere not too long ago (Carmon at Buried Treasure posted about it here, and Cindy at Dominion Family posted about it here,) when some men well known to Christian homeschooling mommas scoffed at the serving we do every day mostly without recognition or reward, at least not the tangible kind.
Here is a quote from one:
"You can tell them on the Sundays: the exhausted and haggard mothers whose husbands expect them not only to cook and to clean, but also to home-school the kids. For every omnicompetent wife who seems to be able to run the world and then some, and still look like a million dollars when hubbie gets home for dinner (already on the table, of course), there are ten or more who look crushed and dispirited, who really need to send their kids out of the house in the morning so they can get some rest and some mental sanity, who need their husbands to see the problem and take steps to help them. Are they inadequate as Christian mothers? No. They are crushed by a "Christian" culture that demands their all and gives no slack."
I immediately thought about the verse "Who are you to judge the servant of another?" but as I pondered the criticism of these men I wondered how many times Jesus was ever "exhausted or haggard, crushed or dispirited." How many times did he get in a boat to escape a crowd of people and find rest, only to find another crowd on the other shore? Did he say, "Listen, guys, I know you have needs, but in order to love you better, I need to love me. I need regular 'me time.' I need to pamper myself so I can better serve you."? No, He healed them and had compassion on them. When his followers tried to keep the children from bothering him, He said, "Let the little children come to me."
When it came time to give the ultimate sacrifice, it weighed so heavily on him that he pleaded with his Father to take the burden away. Of course, you know that He did give the ultimate sacrifice, even though it was uncomfortable, tiresome, humiliating, and painful, even unto death.
I don't see anywhere in the scriptures, whether in the examples of Jesus or the apostles or in direct command that we are only to serve when it is comfortable for us. "Greater love hath no man than he would lay down his life for a friend." "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." It seems to me that serving ought to be sacrificial in nature. We ought to be laying down our own desires and wishes in order to meet the needs of others. Just like our Savior.
I even heard from the pulpit once that if you are uncomfortable with the serving you are doing, then it probably isn't your area of giftedness and you should look for another area in which to serve. If only Stephen, the first Christian martyr, had known that before he was stoned to death for sharing the gospel! I wonder if Paul was comfortable in prison or tied to a post receiving lashes.
In the alumni magazine from the Christian university I attended I saw an article written by the current president. He was describing the dedication of his dear mother who cared for his severely handicapped brother until her death. He described the way, despite much advice to the contrary, she refused to put him in an institution, but took his care upon herself and did everything she could to make his life comfortable. As an adult, he pleaded with his mother to let someone else take care of the brother, but the mother refused. I wonder if that mother was ever tired or haggard. I wonder if she ever felt uncomfortable taking care of the toilet habits of a full grown handicapped son.
That mother laid down her life for another. She laid down all her free time, her wishes and desires. She put the needs of someone else ahead of her own. She loved another as she would want to be loved.
Just like Jesus.
She did not leave his care to strangers who only cared because they were paid to. No. She cared because she loved him. She had given birth to him and held him and nurtured him as an infant. She knew no one could give him the loving care that she could.
I beg your pardon if I sometimes look tired. Sometimes I am. I don't want to be the kind of Christian who only does what is easy or convenient. I want to be like my Savior. He laid His life down for us. It was not an easy choice for Him, but He did the will of His Father and did not count the cost. That is the kind of Christian I want to be. For that, I make no apologies.