Have you ever paused on a verse of Scripture and wondered if, just maybe, that truth was written for you alone? Perhaps it comforted when you felt alone or directed when you didn’t know which step to take next. I had one of those moments. But this one was more of a face-on challenge – a dare to do and be different. Not so much a come-along-side, but more of a step-it-up encounter.
I lead weekend retreats for women to come away, to “Dare to Be Still” with Jesus. My friend who leads the Prayer Team recently said, “We really need to pray the ladies will have the courage to come because our natural tendency is to work rather than be still.”
I’m so thankful for the truth-telling of my friend. But I laughed at her words and responded, “I’d much rather quietly meditate than do the hard work of loving others!”
Perhaps you’re seeing where I’m going with this verse and why it struck me as a direct – and much needed – confrontation. As Mark Batterson says in his book, Draw the Circle:
“When everything is said and done, God won’t say, ‘Well said, good and faithful servant.’ He won’t say ‘well thought,’ ‘well planned,’ or even ‘well prayed.’ There is only one commendation He will give” ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
So, what is this DOING Jesus honors?
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
Matthew 25:14-15 NLT
“…Each according to their abilities.”
Last week I watched this unfold at Green Valley Rehab Center. A week earlier my precious 93-year-old Mom had broken her hip. I wish you knew Martha Jane. She is a doer of the most honorable kind. She’s been blessed with strength – emotional, physical and mental, even into her nineties. And she is a great lover of people.
For her second week of recovery, she moved from hospital to rehab. She hurt and moved slowly, but her spirit maintained the grace and optimism that characterizes her life.
I sat one afternoon with her in the dining room where she was surrounded by a small group of adoring family members drinking water and eating peanut-buttered-graham crackers with her. Only a handful of other residents occupied a couple nearby tables.
Suddenly the room filled with music. A professional opera singer had come from out-of-state to visit and sing to his Dad before he left for Tokyo to perform for hundreds. Stunning! We sat, mesmerized. Nurses and CNAs stepped in and quietly leaned against the walls.
This guest with breath-taking talent humbly slipped out later as residents came in wheelchairs and walkers to be bibbed for dinner. Mom chose the table where the opera singer’s parents sat. I slid into the fourth chair at the table, still speechless from the performance. But not Mom. She did what she has spent her life doing – she gave what she was able. In this case, it was words.
She leaned in, her voice still weak from her recent fall and surgery. And she looked directly into the eyes of this man, the father of the singer. She was undaunted by his condition. Half his face was frozen from a stroke. His skin was a deep yellow caused by this last stage of pancreatic cancer. In fact, his delicate condition was the reason his son made this stop before leaving for Japan. It would be his final time to sing for his Dad, and it was his father’s final wish.
“You are leaving a wonderful legacy for the world to enjoy!” she began. “I’m honored to have listened with you. Thank you for sharing his beautiful voice with us.” His wife smiled at Mom with tears in her eyes.
“Well done.” To the opera-singing son and to my Mom, the grateful receiver.
As I pause to be still and relive the moment, the Lord challenges me again through the words of Peter Marshall, the former chaplain of the United States Senate:
“I wonder what would happen if we all agreed to read one of the Gospels, until we came to a place that told us to do something, then went out to do it, and only after we had done it… began reading again.”
TO CONSIDER: What good work awaits your doing today?