Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Aches and Pains of Service

I could still feel the vibrations in my hands (and my elbows and shoulders ... and teeth).  I found two very tender spots on the palms of my hands, located just below my rings.  On my right hand, a small blister was forming.  And I knew the next day I would most definitely feel it in my hamstrings, hiney and back.  Ahhh ... evidence of a difficult task accomplished.

I would love to say that I had tackled some enormous job ... jackhammering the back patio in preparation for a new deck area, sanding the entire house for a new paint job, breaking up tile in the bathroom for a new jacuzzi tub.  Alas, I just mowed the lawn.

But in reality, it wasn't "just mowing the lawn".  It was a birthday present for my hubby.  An act of service that, as expected, spoke directly to his service-lovin' heart!  By hauling that behemoth mower around, emptying two near-to-bursting bags of clippings and subjecting my hands to a beating, I was treating my husband to a lawn-care-free birthday weekend and getting two extra hours with my sweetie. I also enjoyed a bonus smooch on his arrival home. :)

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

Did it cost me something?  Yes.

Was it worth it?  Definitely!

That is the way with service, I think.  The acts of service that involve a few aches and pains are the sweetest.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being on the receiving and giving end of any sort of service, but if there is a little sweat, a little sacrifice, a little surrender, it seems to mean just that much more.  Those vibrating, tender hands and soon-to-be-sore muscles were saying, "You are important.  You deserve this.  You are worth some aches and pains."

Here are a few more examples of this sacrificial service:

During the season premier of "The Amazing Race", an innocent bystander at a gas station found  one of the contestant's passports abandoned in the parking lot.  This man made the amazing choice to drive to the airport and seek out the frazzled traveler.  He could have just turned it in to the gas station attendant and gone on his way, but he chose to go all out and spend his time, energy and gas for a complete stranger.  The absolute joy on the contestant's face was a just reward for this man's sacrifice.  (That and his cameo on the hit TV show!  Smile at the camera!)

Brett's folks are just now beginning to see an end to a very long season of one particular health issue.  It has been a long road and we are celebrating with them as they discover the richness of life on the other side of Mom's amputation. On our recent Labor Day weekend with them, Mom wanted to make calzones.  She has always had a heart for service and this was an important act of love for her.  It was challenging for her as she stood on her one leg with her walker and rolled out dough and stuffed it full of the pizza toppings.  And it was challenging for us to let her.  But in the end, we enjoyed a delicious dinner and she enjoyed the satisfaction and fatigue of a tough act of service.  (And a good night's sleep, too!)

We recently had my mom and sister's dogs and canary for a week.  Their four pets and our own menagerie brought the number of living beings under our roof to a whopping 18!  Even as I write that number, I have to shake my head ... what a zoo!  There was an awful lot of barking, tweeting, "sshh-ing", ball throwing, treat eating and four-footed frolicking going on.  I will confess that there were a few moments when I felt a little overwhelmed by the endless needs and excessive energy in the house.  But ... that sacrifice meant that my mom and sis were off enjoying a very much needed vacation!  That made the slimy balls to retrieve from the other side of the fence and the puddles from incessant markers more okay.  (I don't think we'll be adopting any additional pets, however!)

Finally,  Jesus demonstrated a beautiful act of service for His friends during His final dinner with them. He washed their feet.  Their dirty, sweaty, stinky, callused, filthy feet.  And He dried each foot (all 24 of them) with a towel He had tied around His waist.  After He cleaned their road weary feet, He said to them,

“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:12b-15)

Those were strange words for the disciples to hear because this act of washing feet was actually the job of the lowliest servant of the house.  Not for the Son of God.  But this act of service was Jesus's MO.  This is how He works.

But Jesus didn't stop there.  In fact this foot washing was a precursor for His ultimate gift of service, His willingness to die on the cross and take on our punishment for sin.

Jesus reminded His friends in Mark 10, that His purpose on earth was not to be crowned King, but to do the tough work of Servant and Savior.

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45)

What does this mean for us?

For me, it is a challenge to serve sacrificially and cheerfully.  And embrace the aches and pains that come along with it!


31 Days of Mom in the Midst
Day 6:  Me, Myself & I
Day 8:  The Aches and Pains of Service

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