I've heard it said that being a servant brings joy to your heart. That giving unto others is always better than receiving. That sacrificing for others has its rewards. Yes, there is truth in all of those quotes, but there is another side to the story, just like anything else. Like a mother, always letting her children take the last of the meal or special treat baked for her family, or letting them use up the last drop of warm water for showers before showering herself once they are squeaky clean and dry. Moms have a way of putting themselves last, making sure everyone else is taken care of in her home. Motherhood is an excellent show of sacrifice. But so is fatherhood - he is the one who carries the burden in his heart, watching his wife, knowing she is putting herself last for the sake of the family. If you have a wonderful husband like mine, he will go the extra mile after working a long, hard day and help with the dishes or anywhere else that needs attention in the home. He is also good at getting the children to step up to the plate and set them into motion to help out where needed too, when Mom's patience seems to have vanished.
Yet, the sacrifice I am talking about is stepping out of the home and going beyond the expected. Helping others when they need help, no matter the toll it takes, knowing that this too shall pass. Simply being the tool in the Master's hand. Letting Him guide me through life, down the road of being like Him, giving of myself in a Christ-like manner. Yet, even machines wear down and need recharging. Even the pencil I hold when I am writing wears down to a dull tip and it is not sharp anymore. That is when I reach the point (no pun intended) where I feel like my giving is not rewarding; my heart does not feel joy, and I wonder if it is worth the extra effort to do what I am doing. I feel like I am just the pencil that has become dull and incapable of putting out anything worth while any more.
I have had some very strange circumstances occur these past few months, which caused me to step out of my comfort zone and help others in need, not because I wanted to be a hero, but I felt that gentle prodding in my heart from the Lord to be His pencil. A mother and her four children needed a place to crash for the afternoon so we invited them to come and join us for Sunday lunch, and the little ones played with my own children all afternoon. After church that evening, she was preparing to take them on a four hour trip home, but I could not see her doing that after such a long day. We had the next day off from school, so after some shifting around from my own children, whom I am so thankful for their servant's hearts and selfless attitudes, the mother took the girls' room with a couple of the children and the boys shared a bed in the boys' room. I saw them off the next day after breakfast and showers, and felt very overwhelmed at what had just happened. I felt happy for helping them while I could, but I felt like I had not been the right one to give advice or help in the way she needed. I was exhausted from trying to be the tool in the hand of the Lord and needed some recharging.
Over and over again things have happened this year that has shown me why the Lord wanted me to step away from teaching last year and be a tool for Him. I made the mistake of praying once last year that the Lord would allow me to be needed somewhere, so I could feel useful during a lull in my life. Be careful what you ask for. God will answer that and then some. I remember specifically asking that it would not be due to sickness (thinking of subbing for teachers out sick) and well, He answered that prayer. I simply forgot there are all kinds of other situations out there that can arise where people need help and so I have been swamped by all kinds of needs around me. I am not complaining, and for anyone reading this who needed my help, please understand I was happy to help you. I love helping where I can and being that pencil in the hand of the Lord. I will not go into details here about everything, but I have subbed for teachers, been the lunch lady (I enjoyed this the most!), and watched babies for mothers who needed a sitter for the day or even for four nights when one mother had twins. That was the most recent one. I am afraid I came down with the cold that the little (if you think 42 lbs of baby is little!) boy had and lost a lot of sleep listening to him stir off and on all night. It all hit me last night and so I went to bed early, around 8:15, and slept about eleven hours, something I needed to help heal and recharge. I feel so much better today and this past week is already a distant memory. I feel for the little boy's mother, who has to deal with a two year old and two sweet little twins. She is going to be the one who is going to need a nice long sleep soon, to recharge from being that sacrificial mom. I needed my recharge so I can be ready to step in and help her out again if needed. The Bible says that the Lord will not give us more than we can handle in life, but He allows trials to come our way so we remember our need to call on Him, that we cannot do this ourselves. He is always there by our side, guiding, helping, and giving us the strength to continue on. So, I remain His tool, the pencil in God's hand, ready to be stripped of my dullness in His sharpener; to be sharp and pointy for the next task at hand. If there is one thing that I have learned in life it is that this too shall pass and it will only be a distant memory tomorrow. All I need to do is look at my children and see how true that statement really is...it may not be a joy at the moment, but it will bring great joy in the end.