Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fit to serve

Hannah Whitall Smith was a practical mystic. She wrote about the mysterious transformation in a person's interior life that resulted in external changes. She claimed that love for God colored the perception of everything in life. Duty became a privilege, and drudgery turned to joyful service.

Hannah said there was no place for insecurity in God's work. He chose the right tool for the job: if he put us in place it was because we were a good fit for the task. He would give us the interest and the ability to accomplish his purposes. Our responsibility was to follow him with all our hearts and do the work at hand with all our might. As we heard his voice, he would move us into place.

The hardest work can be finding a fit. The lucky ones ease into a niche we love, like my husband who gathers information, sorts it, uses it, and passes it on. W teaches in all his fields of interest, from theology to technology to building. He loves to learn new skills. He revels in the classroom. But he has also crafted much of our home with his own hands and is building a cabin piece by piece. He reads the books, gathers the tools, processes the information into useful abilities, and shares his insights and resources with anyone who asks.

My brother is a musician. He played violin from age 5, but fell in love with band instruments in Grade 6. Anything he's done outside music seems like a chore and a bore. Hand him any instrument, a blank book of staff paper (or a computer composer program), a conductor's baton, and an upcoming concert, and he's energized. The arrangements in his head transfer into fabulous sounds as the orchestra or choir comes alive under his direction. The beauty of living in Europe and his interactions with people find expression in his music.

Life is uneven, and God made us as it pleased himself, tools for purposes he has chosen. Some have many gifts and interests. Others are narrowly focused. Billy Graham is often touted as a model of success because he did one and only one thing he was called to do. In contrast, some people touch many others in constant waves of activity, moving through many venues at different times and with multiple talents.

Whether we are good at one thing or many, some are instantly capable while others work laboriously toward competence. Watching someone "sail through life" with seeming ease while we are struggling for every breath may make us doubt ourselves. Watching others weigh every move when we are ready to spring into action can make us impatient or frustrated. Some people stay in a job for a lifetime. Others gets restless after a few years and need new challenges.

"Envy rots the bones," says a proverb. Another adviser counsels, "Be content with what you have." The quick pace of a person who moves from success to success may mask the creative struggle behind every win. The slow thoughtfulness of a perfectionist may blur the steady flow of accomplishments in everything they touch. Who can say which is better? We need all gifts and all voices to understand God moving through the world.

What are we good at? Where is God putting us to best use? Who needs our encouragement and applause, even though they are very different than we?

Read more:
*(Hannah Whitall Smith) "We are so utterly helpless that no matter how careful we were, our service would amount to nothing. What have we to do with thinking whether we are fit or not fit for service? The Master-workman surely has a right to use any tool He pleases for His own work, and it is plainly not the business of the tool to decide whether it is the right one to be used or not... If He chooses to use us, of course we must be fit... His strength is made perfect, not in our strength, but in our weakness. Our strength is only a hindrance."

*A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. Matthew 10:24-25 NIV

*Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day does it for the Lord. The one who eats, eats for the Lord because he gives thanks to God, and the one who abstains from eating abstains for the Lord, and he gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 4:4-8 NET

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