Very often when we hear about service we conjure up pictures of complex mission trips to a foreign country, or some other complicated project involving others. How often do we pause to consider that we could be of service anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstance, with the acts of service being planned, unplanned, or commissioned?
A few summers ago I was delighted to accompany my husband on a Sunday morning walk. I couldn’t help noticing that he was becoming a bit irritated by the length of time it took me to get on my walking shoes, as well as to collect a few bits of personal “things” to take on the walk. He remarked that these “things” were unnecessary. My response was that I always took these “things” with me on my walks.
Making our way back home from a delightful walk, I noticed a college-aged woman heading in our direction. Stopping in front of me, she explained that she had not expected the weather to warm up so quickly, and was feeling extremely dehydrated. Asking for a drink of water, she promised to “air drink” from the bottle, rather than allowing her mouth to touch it. I was happy to let her have the water, because the bottle was one of the “things” that I’d brought with me.
The young woman was obviously in need of water—she was heavily perspiring, and her hands were trembling terribly, making “air drinking” an impossibility. As she guzzled the chilled water, my husband looked at me questioningly, as if to say, “What made you bring that bottle of water?” I told the thirsty runner that she could keep the water bottle and offered her some chilled grapes—another one of my “things”—but she declined.
Did I have any foreknowledge that something was going to be required of me that morning? Of course not! However, I’m glad I stuck to my routine of always bringing a bottle of water and some fruit whenever I venture out on a walk.
It has been said that preparedness is everything. This is certainly applicable to the Christian believer, because we never know where or when we will be called into service. The apostle Paul admonished us to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:13). With such a long checklist to follow in being prepared (verses 13-17), my water bottle and grapes really paled in comparison. Thank God He is still able to use the little we have to enable us to minister to others.
The influence of little things for good or evil is great.
One day I received a call from a young woman inquiring about Adventist World magazine. She had seen an issue at a friend’s workplace and was inspired by the contents. She wanted to obtain the magazine on a regular basis. Through our conversation I realized that she was not affiliated with the church, and I decided to send her a few copies. A few weeks later I received the following letter: “I wish to let you know how thankful I am to you, and honored by your generous gift of the Adventist World magazines. . . . Thanks for caring and sharing. You are a blessing.”
I get mail quite often, but this one touched me. I thought that I was just doing my job, even though I extended myself a bit to accommodate her situation. However, her written response of gratitude showed that it meant much more to her than I’d realized.
How often in our “busyness” are we tempted to ignore a phone call—viewing it as a distraction from the important task at hand—while failing to realize that perhaps that particular call is the important task that God has sent our way, that the unknown voice on the line is in fact searching for a “lifeline,” one for which God has given us some measure of responsibility.
What do you do, however, when you’re being of service, only to be “beaten about the head,” as it were, by the very individuals you’re trying to help? It may be that you were asked to serve in one of those “much-sought-after” church positions or on the school board or even in your home.
Such was my experience recently when my husband and I had to make a decision to relocate one of our children from one part of the house to the other. After considering the logistics and the needs of that child, we felt we had made the best decision. When I disclosed our decision to our offspring, however, I quickly found myself on the receiving end of their verbal displeasure. I thought I was doing something that was beneficial for their health and well-being, only to be met with vitriolic, verbal ingratitude.
Feeling discouraged, I sought solace in my bedroom. There I sent up a silent plea to God for courage, strength, and wisdom to deal with the situation. There I was able to refocus on why this act of service was being done.
In the end I was able to let my child know that my action was the right thing to do; it was one that was expected of me as a parent, but more important it was what was required of me by God, and to do anything less would be to dishonor Him—to do a disservice to Him. In a short time that child came to respect, and accept, the decision.
Some weeks later during my private devotional time, I came upon a reading entitled “Faithful in That Which Is Least.” My resolve to be ready at all times to serve was bolstered as I read: “The active service of God is directly connected with the ordinary duties of life, even its humblest occupations. We are to serve God just where He puts us. He is to place us individually, and not we ourselves. Perhaps service in the home life is the place we are to occupy for a time, if not always.”1
It goes on to state that “the importance of little things is underrated just because they are small, but the influence of the little things for good or evil is great. They supply much of the actual discipline of life for every human being. . . . They are part of the training of the soul in the sanctification of all our entrusted talents to God. Faithfulness in the little things in the line of duty makes the worker in God’s service reflect more and more the likeness of Christ.”2
What an awesome God! He is not one of happenstance—He wants to place us in situations where He would have us serve. All we have to do is be ready, willing, and faithful so that we may embody His words in Scripture: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). n