Monday, July 23, 2012

The Heart of a Servant

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, (Ephesians 6:7 NIV)

I love to read. I will read any genre, any author, as long as there's a story in which to get completely lost. For me, the sign of being in the midst of a a good book is when I have difficulty returning to reality after I've turned the final page for the night.

I had little to no experience with "Christian" literature until recently. A friend from Michigan (Hi, Kate!) recommended a series called Acts of Faith by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. The first book, The Centurion's Wife, was compelling. I was quickly pulled in by the time period of the book, which takes place in Jerusalem in the days immediately following the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, at that time a well known but little understood prophet. The story winds through the days following Jesus' resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It all makes ones wonder what it would have been like to have been one of the first Christians in a culture dominated by politics and religion.

The second book, The Hidden Flame, follows a secondary character from the first book and her work with the Apostles in the early days of Christianity. The persecution and fear from the Jewish establishment finally comes to a head and leads to the martyrdom of one of the group's members.

These books have intrigue, romance, culture, and adventure. But also lessons for our lives in modern society.

The lesson that deeply resonated with me was how the men and women in the story were ready and wiling to serve the Lord. The women found joy in small tasks, like cooking and laundry, a task made exponentially more difficult and mundane without our modern conveniences. Yet they knew their tasks were blessed by God, and through their small contributions larger things, like being examples of Christ's love, we're being accomplished.

In an age where women are encouraged to have careers but still complete most household duties, it was refreshing to see that these women viewed their tasks as not only noble but essential to the survival of their colony of Christians. They didn't need fame or fortune to know that they were fulfilling God's will.

Do I undertake menial things with joy, or do I groan and feel certain tasks are beneath my talents? Do I realize that my attitude towards difficult or boring tasks helps shape my childrens' attitudes toward the same duties? Am I an example of joyful obedience? Am I always thankful that I have home to clean and food to prepare? How do I let go of my selfishness and learn to faithfully follow? Do I have a servant's heart?

I have one book left in the series. Perhaps I'll have more answers after I finish...

Anyone read any good books lately? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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