He made himself nothing.
The snow fell soundlessly all morning. I stood at the window, watching it blanket the meadow. There was something calming about its presence. “You send the snow to quiet me, don’t you?” I asked God,
“Is it working?” He replied, and smiled.
“Yes. It’s in the silence of these moments that I hear what Jesus was really saying to us.
“What do you hear?”
“He wanted us to not just imitate Him, He wanted us to be IN Him, as He is in us,” I answered. “He wanted us to understand that we have to empty ourselves as He did if we want to enter the flow of love. But it’s hard, God. Jesus took love beyond human boundaries. He told us to give, to love, without wanting anything in return. He even wants us to be as merciful as you!”
God chuckled. “He did take love to a new place. But you can enter that place through Him. Keep your heart open. Be of service to others as He served others.”
“I’ll do my best,” I said. “Anything else?”
“Don’t cling to anything. That’s part of the emptying.”
I thought about how I try to hold on to money, my career, my youth, people, things…the list goes on and on.
“Let go,” God whispered and then blew the snow around the meadow, making it swirl and dance as it came to rest.
“Breathe on me as you do the snow. Let your breath be what fills me, instead of my ego,” I prayed, opening my heart as wide as I could
The greatest among you will be your servant.
I pulled off my latex gloves and placed them under the sink, my cleaning chores now complete. I made a cup of tea and wandered into the bedroom to curl up by the fire. Snow was expected soon.
For some reason, I couldn’t get the gloves out of my mind. I thought about how they did the work I asked them to do. Such trusty and uncomplaining servants they were!
”Make me like them, God,” I asked. “Let me slip over your hands, happy to serve without complaint.”
I took a sip of tea and looked out the window. Snow began to fall—downy flakes that danced on the soft breeze. I watched, mesmerized by their beauty and grace.
I took another sip of tea as the wind stirred the snow into a gentle whirlwind of white. How blessed I felt at that moment, the beauty of God revealed for my eyes to see. How blessed I felt to be a part of His magnificent plan. How blessed I am to serve Him.
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.”
A tree grew in the depths of a forest. Every year it watched men come and chop down other trees to use to make fine furniture. Every year they passed over the tree, for it was too rough and twisted. As the years passed, the tree resigned itself to never being useful. It would never end up in someone’s home as a beautiful table or desk.
One morning, two men came into the forest. They ran their hands over the tree. “This one will do,” said one of the men as he lifted an ax to chop down the tree. After a few strokes, it fell to the ground. The men carried it out of the woods, into town. They sawed and hammered the tree. When they were done, they placed it on the back of a carpenter. Amid a frenzied crowd, He labored to carry it up a hill. When they arrived at the top of the hill, His hands and feet nailed to the tree. For many hours, He hung bleeding, His arms stretched out wide. Later, some men gently took Him down and wrapped Him in grave cloth and took Him away. Night fell. God whispered to the tree, “You’ve done well. Thank you.”
“Why are you thanking me?” the tree said. “I don’t know what I’ve become, but I’m not a beautiful table or desk.”
“You are far more beautiful than a table or a desk,” God said.
“How can that be?” The tree asked. “I’m full of imperfections. I’m useless.”
“You don’t have to be perfect to do my work,” God explained. “Many that I choose are imperfect, just like you.”
The tree had no way of knowing just how big a role it had played in God’s Kingdom. You and I don’t know how big our roles are, either. In our rough and twisted, imperfect lives, God uses us in ways we’ll never understand. We may worry that others are better, that the roles they are chosen for are more important. But we worry needlessly. Our imperfections are perfect for the work God uses us for.
The Spirit lives in you.
New to my church, I volunteered to help clean the fellowship area one morning. I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor—the door propped open— when two other volunteers walked by. Instantly I felt the desire for recognition. I wanted them to know what a good job I was doing. “Why does my ego have to rear its head, God?” I asked.
“Human nature,” God replied.
“It makes me feel needy,” I said and frowned.
“If you stand firm in my Spirit you won’t need anyone to tell you that you are good or worthy,” God explained. “You’ll know that you are.”
A stubborn stain on the floor caught my attention and I put more effort into scrubbing. “Thank you for your service,” God said.
I smiled. “Thanks for saying. As long as you’re happy with my efforts in life, it doesn’t matter what other’s think.”
“Let my love be enough for you,” God said softly.
“I’ll do my best,” I replied.
“That’s all you can do,” God said, and gave my head a sweet pat. “Oh, and you missed a spot over there,” He said and pointed.
“I did?” I asked.
“Just kidding. Come on, let’s go get a muffin and some tea when you are done,” He invited.
“Let me put my supplies away and you’re on!” I closed the bathroom door and God took my latex-gloved hand in His and we walked down the hall together.
Serve one another humbly.
He opened the door and strode into the cafe, running his hands through his disheveled hair. His clothes were wrinkled; his shirt untucked in random places, hanging loosely. But he had a sparkle in his eyes that immediately warmed the room. In all of his disarray, there was a boyishness about him, an innocence. He caught me watching him and he smiled at me, nodding ever so slightly. I smiled and nodded back. Was he a local? A tourist? I didn’t know.
After I left the cafe, my thoughts returned to the young man. He had seemed so authentic, not at all concerned about his appearance on an early Sunday morning.
“I put that young man in your path to remind you to be unassuming,” God said as I walked to church.
“It worked,” I replied. “He made an impression.”
“It’s when you are humble that my love shines through you,” God explained.
I thought about Jesus. He walked miles and miles to spread God’s love. His ego didn’t urge Him to dress in fancy robes or to ride the biggest donkey into town. There was only His desire to be of humble service. How often had God’s love been hidden, overshadowed by my pretentiousness?” I wondered. I entered the old church. It was plain—even tired looking, yet it shone with God’s love.
Something made me turn and look at the door. The young man from the cafe entered and took a seat. I smiled. I’d have to find him after the service and say hello. I slipped off my flashy jewelry and tucked it into my purse. “God, I don’t need to shine,” I said. “Your love needs to shine through me.”
“Atta girl,” God said as the choir began to sing.
You should wash one another’s feet.
The coolness of the morning invited me to walk the garden before the birds began their singing. The ground, still wet with dew, sparkled in the first light of day. Something made me want to take off my shoes and walk atop the damp blades of grass—to feel the earth beneath my feet. “He’s washing your feet,” God said to me. “Just like He did the disciple’s feet.”
“Jesus is washing my feet right now?” I asked, a bit shocked at such a notion.
“Yes. He’s tenderly taking your feet in His hands as you walk barefoot in the garden,” He replied.
I rested on the wooden bench under the pear tree and pondered God’s words in my heart. I pictured Jesus kneeling before His disciples, washing away the dirt and grime and weariness from the day’s journey. I could scarcely contain my emotions at the thought of Him washing my feet. I trembled, even though the morning air had not grown any cooler. “You really want to wash my feet, Lord?” I whispered.
“Yes. I came to serve you. I came to love you,” He answered gently. “As I’ve done for you, do so for others.”
I nodded. “I will.”
So dear reader, I humbly kneel before you with my words serving as a bowl of warm water and a bar of soap. Let these words cleanse away the dust and dirt that wearies your soul. Let these words open your heart to the fullness of God—that you may know His love completely. May I be in service to you always