It has been messy at our house lately as a stomach bug makes laps around our little family circle. Consequently, the comments to follow are not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. They are, however, indicative of our life right now, and there is a point.
It all started with a trip to the bank that ended with everyone in the bank watching Zeke vomit into my hand and a trash can respectively. Gabe later observed, “Wow, that’s humiliating.” We laughed, but that was only the beginning. Now, almost two weeks later, -after 2 cancelled birthday parties, several cancelled dinner engagements, multiple meetings missed or rescheduled, weeks of missed church for Christina, and only sparse interactions with the rest of humanity-we are still fighting that stupid bug!
Last night – after Zeke and Josie (the “healthy ones”) violently rejected their dinner all over the kitchen in a scene that included the unforgettable scream “Aaaaah! My nose just spit Mac and Cheese!” – Christina and I were pretty discouraged. It was so discouraging to think of how long it’s been since we slept through the night or had not had to clean up vomit or other bodily fluids from unimaginable places every few hours. It was discouraging to think of how tired I was and to consider that this thing might be starting over. I just might smell like throw-up the rest of my life!
At that moment, it hit me. There’s a lesson here. There’s something God wants me to see. However, I didn’t get it. Instead, I fell asleep. When I woke up, though, God picked up where He left off. I finally understood while reading a story with Gabe about Amy Carmichael who went to India as a young woman to be a missionary. For years, she traveled from town to town sharing the Gospel and seeing people saved. It was an exciting life, but she left it behind because she was burdened for the orphans and began raising them as her own. Three years later, with 17 children to care for, she wondered if she had done the right thing. She had once spent almost all of her time telling people about Jesus and now she changed diapers and cleaned messes. She wondered until she reread the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and it hit her that we are God’s servants, and serving is dirty, messy work.
As I read about this “hero of the faith” struggling with the very thing I was, I found encouragement. I was reminded again that I am a servant and serving is messy. Also, service to anyone should be service to God. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus teaches that whatever we do “for the least of these” is counted as service to God Himself. Serving my wife and children in this way might seem less “spiritual” then working at church and “doing ministry”, but that is the flesh talking, not God. God says to serve Him by serving the neediest. Sometimes the neediest are across the globe, but sometimes they’re in our neighborhood, church, workplace or even sharing our roof. When you consider serving and are tempted to say with Gabe, “WOW, that’s humiliating!”, just remember that you’re God’s servant and He honors those who are humiliated for His sake.