Too Lofty an Aspiration?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher, fire fighter, doctor, or nurse? As you matured, did your aspirations morph, as well, letting go of your super-hero dreams, for instance, to pursue the construction trades? Or were you like the college student I know, who resolutely pursues a career as an ESPN announcer, a goal from which he has not wavered since the fourth grade? Yet of all the aspirations I’ve ever heard, I don’t recall anyone saying, “When I grow up, I want to be a servant.”

Servanthood—we may regard it as the lowest rung on a worldly ladder, but it is our highest heavenly calling. Think for a minute, how powerful the moments spent in prayer with someone who is confused, angry or hurting! Very few people will refuse your offer. Recall for a minute, what is it like to hear words of truth spoken in love, replacing confusion with clarity and doubts with hope? Marvel for a minute, what is it like to be a conduit through whom God’s eternal power and divine love meet people’s earthly and spiritual needs? Reflect for a minute, what is it like to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”?1

Or imagine for a minute how it must feel to share the honor of those whom God has called, “my servant”—Moses2, Joshua3, Samuel4, David5, Elijah6, and Jesus7. Too lofty an aspiration? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m guessing that in your heart of hearts, your deepest desire is to hear Jesus speak these words to you when you see Him face to face, “Well done, good and faithful servant! … Come and share your master’s happiness.”8 And if this is indeed our innermost yearning, then would we live our days with servant hearts from which flow servant deeds? Is there any higher calling? Can there be any greater reward?

I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:9b-10)

Father, your Son came to us as a servant; grace us the humility to serve with Him. Amen.

Christ in me is humility.

1 2 Corinthians 1:4
2 Exodus 14:31
3 Joshua 24:29
4 1 Samuel 3:10
5 2 Samuel 3:18
6 2 Kings 9:36
7 Isaiah 52:13
8 Matthew 25:21


The Day of Small Things

For far too long it seems, I searched life’s receding horizons for “days of significance,” the kind when financial goals are met, career positions reached, or longed-for relationships born. Then all would be well, I thought. Yet it was a very different kind of day, a plainly unremarkable one, when it dawned on me that life is chiefly a collection of simple days, each with its own DNA yet very much like most others. After all, how many times in life do we earn a degree, land the new job, or find our heart’s love? We call them “momentous occasions” for a reason: though exciting and savored, they are also few and brief. We do well to celebrate them while they last.

Most of our calendar pages are of the seemingly inconsequential variety, or what God through the prophet Zechariah called, “the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10 NASB). We marginalize them, but the truth of the matter is, these are where life is truly lived, where hands are held and loved ones hugged, where kindnesses warm the grateful heart and compassions comfort the deepest pain. Mementos from these every-days accent our homes and overflow our scrapbooks with the unlikeliest of treasures, but richest—pre-school handprints, Senior Play programs, and first-love rose petals. Here also is where God prunes us for growth, paring back pride so humility may grow and lopping off foolishness to make way for wisdom. Perseverance eventually pushes up through life’s difficult dirt, and a million fears finally wither before a time-tested God.

In the grace of God, these days of small things coalesce into a lifework far exceeding the splendor of any single moment—indeed all of them—we once thought significant. They usher us reliably through an existence of meaning and purpose, for through the collection of them we mature and bear fruit for eternity—some of which we are already aware and far more to be revealed in an age yet to come. In awe, then, we bear witness to God in worship rising from a deeper depth and praise reaching to a higher height, for we have seen His wisdom, beauty and faithfulness shine most brightly through “days of small things,” which, together, are no small thing at all.

Father, we praise you. How great is your goodness, and how unsearchable your wisdom! Mold us all our days into the image of your Son, and be happy with our wondrously transformed lives. The glory is yours forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Wait a Minute

Let’s try a word-association test. I’ll say a word, and you say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? “Patience.” (What, you don’t want to play anymore?)

Of all the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us, the prospect of acquiring patience unsettles us the most. How many times, for instance, have we heard—or said—something like this: “Don’t pray for patience, because you just might get it!” Kindness, goodness, and faithfulness? Yes, Lord, make me more like you. Love, joy, and peace? Come and fill me to overflowing. But patience? Please, Lord, not today. I don’t have time for it.

We’re so thankful when others endure us with grace, and we respect them for their forbearance, so what makes this particular virtue so difficult for us to practice? I think it is because patience is the “time element” fruit: it requires us, amid trying circumstances, to relinquish control over a protracted and often indeterminable period of time. An act of kindness may only take a moment, and we love in real-time. Patience, though, means waiting in faith—abiding a difficulty we cannot control and hoping for what we cannot see—for who knows how long?

Patience is a struggle for us, but it is the very nature of God. We see it in the Heavenly Father’s assurance to His Kingly Son, as David reveals: “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”1 We experience it in God’s regard for us, as Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”2

The fact of the matter is, for all it demands of us, patience gives us back much more. So, let’s try our word-association game again . . .

“Patience.” “Rest.” Patience beckons us to rest in God, rather than to churn in doubt.
“Patience.” “Honor.” Patience calls us to honor those we might otherwise belittle.
“Patience.” “Grace.” Patience invites us to “pay forward” the grace God has shown us.
“Patience.” “Contentment.” Patience matures us from situational happiness to unconditional contentment.
“Patience.” “Opportunity.” Patience allows us to repair relationships we have damaged through impatience.
“Patience.” “Enjoyment.” Patience frees us to enjoy the moments we might merely have endured.
“Patience.” “Humility.” In patience, we trust the faithfulness of God and esteem others as our equals.
“Patience.” “Clarity.” In patience, we exchange our agenda of ambiguity for God’s calendar of clarity.
“Patience.” “Faith.” In patience, we overcome the weakness of doubt with the strength of belief.

Father, dare I ask for patience? Yes, though it costs me my will, I choose to trust in your sovereignty, your wisdom, your love, and your faithfulness. Grace me to flourish in the grace and peace I’ll find in patience. In Jesus’ name and the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is humility.

[Read today’s Scripture in Mark 12:35-37.]

1 Mark 12:36
2 2 Peter 3:9