The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Free to Serve
Choosing to stay at home has freed me to serve. In the last 24 hours that has become abundantly clear to me. A women in our Church is ill right now, with five children and a husband to look after. I am free to help her because I stay at home. Another family has been ill and their toddler can't go to daycare because of the illness. I am free to help them because I stay at home. Our church has several missionary families all visiting this coming week for our annual missions conference. We can host a family because I stay at home.
We live in a world where our families are fragmented. In previous generations it was our extended family who helped in times of crisis or illness. As women we turned to our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and cousins when we needed help or advice. Who do we turn to when those very women are hundreds or thousands of miles away. My family are several thousand miles away and my husband's family are scattered across several states, with his closest relatives hundreds of miles away from us. Our situation is very common where we live in South Florida. Most families have few, if any relatives living in the same State. The women who are at home and available during the working week are usually either elderly, or they have young children of their own to care for. For the working women with children there is noone to turn to for help. Then there is me. I stay at home, making me free to help.
It is a great blessing to know I have a freedom few others choose. The sacrifices we make as a family for me to stay at home are more than repaid by the blessings of service. There has been noone in our Church recently with the time and the burden for our ladies ministry, and so it has been neglected. I am free to serve. I am excited about the opportunity to regrow this vital ministry in an atmosphere where women are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. I have time to give. I have love to give. I have experience to share. There is a gap in our wall and I can fill it. I know I will be blessed so much more than I can ever bless others. It is an priviledge to serve. It is an honour to serve. It is my calling to serve.
There are many topics that are burdens in my heart, and over the coming months I will share and explore each of them. Right now my priority burden is service. It is when we freely, willingly, gladly serve that we can impact the world around us. There are plenty willing to teach and to lead, but where are the servants? The one woman who had the single biggest impact in my life and faith was a servant.
Mrs Gray was a quiet, little, older lady in the Church I grew up in. From a young age I watched her quietly serve with no thought for herself. She had learned to serve from an early age. She had worked in a factory during the Second World War, where she lost part of a finger. She never made an issue of it. I only know because as a teenager I asked her what had happened to her hand. When I knew her she was already retired and a widow of many years. Her hands where crippled by arthritis. Still she quietly served. In my mind she was always in the Church kitchen. No matter the occassion Mrs Gray would be in the kitchen with a large kettle on the stove. She was always ready with a pot of tea and a listening ear. She discovered I had a love for cross-stitch and embroidery. It was a hobby she had loved too when she was younger. The arthritis in her hands meant she could no longer do such delicate fine work. The next time I saw her she had a large tin of threads for me. It was her lifetime collection. Without a second thought she gave it to me, a loud chatty teenager. In the midst of the turmoil of my teen years Mrs Gray was always there. She always had time to listen, and quiet wisdom to pour gently over me. Then one day the Lord called her home. It was a glorious day for her, but a sad day for our Church. We suddenly became aware of how important one quiet little servant could be. There was noone to replace Mrs Gray in the kitchen. Noone else wanted to serve the way she did. I don't recall that she was ever thanked publicly in our Church, until her funeral. It was too late then. Until the day I left that Church in my mid twenties, to move to another part of the country, noone had stepped in to replace Mrs Gray. There was not a single person in the Church willing to humble themselves to serve without thanks. We all had excuses, including me. I was busy with University, then going overseas as a short-term missionary, then when I returned I had to start a career. I saw the gap, but didn't think it was my place to fill. I was too young, too busy, too selfish.
It has been over ten years since I left that Church and began moving around the country on a regular basis. Finally I have stopped moving around and began to put down roots. I am part of a much bigger Church than the one I grew up in. Yet the need for those quiet little servants is just the same. I am called to be a servant. We all are. How we serve is unique to each one of us. For me, I want to serve like Mrs Gray did. I want to hear that "Well done, good and faithful servant." when I get to glory, just like she did. As a woman, as a wife, as a member of my Church, I have been given an incredible gift. I have been given the freedom to serve. I will never be just like Mrs Gray, but I can be just exactly like me. I am first and foremost, a servant of Jesus Christ. All I do should be in service first to Him, in reverence and humility.
May we each find the places where we are called to serve.