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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All Things to All Men

19-23Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
(I Corinthians 9:21-23)

This past week has been a week filled with what some may call "selfish" prayers.  You know the kind of prayers I mean - the ones that start with, "Lord, it is me again..."  Those prayers we all pray are the very ones that God enjoys so much hearing!  We sometimes don't want to lift our needs before God because we fear that he will "label" us as "needy" or "selfish" in our requests.  The prayers I prayed this week may seem a little "selfish" when you hear them, but I don't think God saw them that way at all.  


First, there was the "haboob" that rolled through Phoenix again this week.  The wall of dust just invaded the Valley of the Sun with ominous furry.  The prayers God heard that night were for my grandsons.  You see, the last dust storm (we've had three of these in that past month) sent the youngest one straight to the hospital, struggling for every breath.  Those watchful hours of him experiencing air hunger about broke my daughter's heart.  Those prayers were for God's protection and his keeping power.


Second, there was the surgery my brother underwent this week.  I know, you may not think it much, but it was the extension of a gift of life to another.  You see, he gave a kidney to a life-long friend.  Both men would go through the ups and downs of adjustment - one adjusting to one kidney doing the work of two, the other learning what it would be like again to see his body do the work of filtering his blood instead of some machine.  There were wives at bedside that also needed God's intervention.  Those prayers were for God's miracle of life to be given to one and protection to the other.


Third, there were the prayers for safe passage and gentle graces for my Uncle who is ravaged by the final stages of the cancer that has all but consumed his body.  Maybe these prayers were just a little selfish - knowing how much he means to his family and how much joy he spreads wherever he goes.  The prayer to be free of pain and the fretful tossing of sleepless nights may seem a little selfish, but means the world to those who will share in his last moments of life.


Last, but definitely not least, the prayers for a home suddenly in mourning over the loss of their four year old daughter.  Those moments when Mom and Dad stand in the quietness of a home devoid of her laughter and childlike innocence will have to be met by God's tremendous graces and comfort.  No one will fill that void like he can.


Yeah, we may think our God doesn't want to hear all these "needs" we seem to  be in mind of right now, but I honestly think that is what Paul had in mind when he said that he became all things to all men.  He associated with their need and brought those needs to Christ.  He wanted nothing more than for Christ to intervene in the midst of their need.


God is never tired of hearing from us - even when it seems like all we are bringing him is our NEED.  We have an opportunity to "do the work of Christ" when we are willing to become whatever kind of servant is needed.  This week, your "service" may be in prayer.  You may not be able to hold the family who needs comfort, or spend the night at the bed of the sick.  You may not be able to nurse one back to health, and watch the other burst with the joy of new life.  But...you can be a servant of prayer.  Pray on!