How often do you learn lessons? I need to confess that I’m rather slow, though I do try to be observant about what is happening around me. Before I tell you about two ladies and their stories, I want to speak about a gentleman who lived in the same Center for the Aged that my mom lived in.
Once mom had died, a few of us in the family needed to clear her flat so that the management could repaint it for the next person. Mom’s flat was on the second floor, and to remove the items I needed to park my bakkie and trailer outside the frail care center’s door because access to the “goods” lift was on that side of the complex. It was a long, slow process as I was the one able to move most of the boxes, cases and small furniture items. For the larger ones, I had help from my nephew and his friend.
The frail care section was divided into a hospital section and a section with private rooms where patients who could move around were permitted to do so within various confines. Moving back and forth through the frail care, I noticed a man in a wheelchair. He had no legs. Somehow his legs were lost to amputation or an accident, so high that he was torso, arms and head. As he was confined to his room, he would park his wheelchair in his doorway, just into the passage so that he could observe people passing by. He would greet them and wish them well for the day. He was so pleasant and friendly … and lonely … yet he used what he had available to him to make the most of and enjoy life.
In our church, we have these two ladies. The one I have met on a few occasions and the other one and I are only able to speak on the phone.
The one I met struggles with her legs and needs a walker to move around, yet she is so gentle and friendly … and even though in her mid-eighties wants to (and does) serve the Lord. Her leg handicap does not prevent her from being friendly and delightful. She uses her hands and leads a group of ladies who knit blankets for under-privileged children. We took a friend to church yesterday. This friend was struck by this lady’s warm, friendly, serving spirit. Our friend asked me to ask this lady if anyone needed wool or patterns. By the time our friend walked into the church, the advert had already been put up on the notice board.
The second lady whom I to chat to on the phone landed up in hospital last week after tearing the muscles in her right leg from the groin downwards. Today, she returned to the old age home she lives at. Because it’s an old age home, they are under “lock down” and unable to leave their room. She is also in her eighties and has the same loving, gentle, friendly spirit as the other lady. She knows her recovery will be a long time, yet she is positive, saying, “I can’t use my legs but my hands are fine.”
Both these ladies are believers. They love the Lord, and although like us all, COVID has caught them off guard but not off ministry! They do something with their hands … they keep busy … they keep going … they serve others. What strikes me is them combining their spiritual gifts with practical abilities. Although the passage we look at today is for another purpose–the Tabernacle worship and its requirements–its application remains relevant within the spiritual gifting and practical serving roles today in and through the Church Of God.
Ex 35:30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers. 36:1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.”
God gifts and enables all believers to serve Him as their Lord and King. This gifting and enabling will differ from person to person, although very often the same abilities will be found in those who strive towards a common goal, for the common good.
Take knitting squares to make blankets for children … do you see the common goal for the common good there? Do you see the unselfish spirit even when these ladies are in their eighties and only have their hands to serve with? Do you see the generous open hearts, the love and tenderness and care? I don’t believe their service ends there! I would add that such servants serve the Master because they also pray about many and various issues in their lives, families, church, society and world.
I’m so sorry, but there is a sting here. If they can do what they do at their age and within their circumstances, what can you and I do within our circumstances? We are gifted and we can serve … but will we? Remember, serving Jesus is never forced or coerced. It is always willing … out of a grateful heart for what Jesus did for us at Calvary.
There is one more truth that I want to touch on … Exodus 35:34 says, “the ability to teach others”. I feel we have the teachers, but we seldom have the learners. Our friend who is equally gifted with her hands said something like this referring to the ladies I spoke of above: “This type of person in the church is dying out. No one will replace her.” She is so right … unless learners come forward, soon there will be no one to make those blankets for children in need … and other things that both men and women could make with their hands for those in need.
Dear God, thank You for the way You have gifted and use people, especially the elderly. Please raise up people with the same character and caliber to continue their work as part of Gospel Ministry. For Christ’s sake, amen.