03 May 2007

Lessons from a saint

I wrote earlier about the homegoing of a friend who suffered with brain tumors these five years and finally departed this flesh in favor of a glorified body that has no tumors whatsoever. Now a few words about lessons observed from another friend over Libby's last months.

I've learned so much about real ministry watching this friend (let's call her "Sue"), though I'm sure that what I've observed isn't half of what one could see. Her love for Libby was a true overflow of her affection for her Lord, so she gave of herself in body, mind, soul, and affections liberally and gladly and without pause. This is primarily remarkable because, honestly, Libby wasn't always the easiest woman to love.

What I observed in Sue was a real forgiveness, reconciliatory spirit, compassion, and sacrificial love. Her love toward Libby in those last days especially was tireless, never seeming to remember any former complaint or difficulty. I'm sure the hours she spent praying for Libby in the last months, not to mention the years over which she knew her, are nearly countless. And after Libby's death, she grieved deeply in that hope-filled manner that befits the people of Christ.

Sue often stayed with Libby overnight at Grace Home and stood bedside for counsel. A few weeks before Libby's death, I thanked her for staying with Libby those nights, for I wished I could and knew that it was very hard as Libby was in much pain. Her response was, "Jen, what else could I do? I love her!" And of course, she meant it: no false modesty or imagined affection, no mere sense of duty.

Now, Sue isn't an emotional kind of gal; her heart is simply near to the heart of God, which means she loves all those in Christ with a genuine and sacrificial affection. I've been able to watch it unfold these past few months especially, and it's taught me a lot about how to minister. This is how one must conduct ministry: love to the uttermost, never keep a record of faults, pray unceasingly, regard those the Lord gives you to care for as true daughters, never demand fruit from your efforts and rejoice only in God if you ever see it, never count any of the work as your own but offer it all up to the Lord as a holy and acceptable sacrifice, and give up everything you are (body, time, emotions, mind) to do all the good you can.

All this Sue has learned from our Lord, of course, who did and does all that infinitely better. And all this she would insist is not of herself but is only of Him. And she's right. That's why she can do it. And that's how and why I must do it too.


kinseyatoz said...

Jen - what a lovely reflection!

Brent and Kat said...

Hey Jenn - Your lessons on ministry are applicable to marriage, parenting, dealing with co-workers, coaching softball, etc. I think the point should be, that life should be viewed as ministry. Beautiful words... Thanks for sharing!

Arthur Jackson said...

Beauitful lady.

Jen Strange said...

Indeed, friends, indeed. Much beauty in the service of a saint to a saint. Much beauty in that saint particularly.