Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sometimes...we're the plate

I think when many of us think of service, we think of doing something. We imagine ourselves as waiters or waitresses bringing God's love to those around us. We aspire to be God's instrument, to act on God's behalf, to do His work. When we think of serving, we think of doing something...even if it is something as simple as giving some money to the homeless guy on the corner or letting someone get in front of us in line. But I am realizing that sometimes, rather than be a waiter...my role is closer to that of the plate. In other words, sometimes I serve God best, just by being there.

In the grand scheme of a meal, the plate is very easily over looked. We touch and use the silverware, the glasses, the salt and pepper shakers. We are appreciative of the chef or loved one who cooked the meal. We consciously thank the host(s) or wait staff who bring us the food (often with a gift or tip). But the plate? The plate just sits there. The only reason we even notice it (if in fact we do) is because it holds the food and so we can't help but see it when we look at what we are going to eat. Yes the plate's job is a simple one...hold the food...keep it from running all over the table. The focal point of the meal is almost always the food itself. The plate is really just a prop.

But actually...that might not be fair. After all, the plate is holding the most important part of the meal. And the plate is what allows the meal to be enjoyed (imagine how much less enjoyable it would be if everyone's casserole, quiche, salad, or pasta was just dumped on the table). Yes when we think about it, the plate actually does play a very important role in the meal...by just being there. It doesn't have to do anything...other than to be itself...to sit there and let itself be used. It's important, not because of what it is, but because it allows us to focus on something else. It serves by lifting up another. And sometimes, I think that's all that God wants us to do.

I was reminded of this very poignantly this long weekend. Our daughter has been under the weather the past few days with a relatively high temperature and sore throat. Though there were moments when she was her usual, energetic, joyful self...most of the weekend saw her lying on the couch, curled up in a ball beneath her favorite blanket, not really wanting to eat or drink or do anything but watch The Sound of Music or Toy Story. But one morning, while Mommy was off getting ready for the day, my daughter summoned her strength and pulled herself over to the other end of the couch, where I was sitting...and she climbed into my lap. I, of course, had been lamenting to God how helpless I felt...how I wanted to take her sickness away but there was nothing I could do. And then...as both an answer to prayer and a lesson...my daughter curled up in my lap. She didn't say anything...and quickly resumed her absorption into the TV. But I knew that for her...at that moment...being there in my lap made her feel better than lying in nearly the same position just a few feet away. God showed me through this precious moment that I was able to help someone...in this case my daughter...simply by being there. I didn't have to do anything or bring her anything. There was no action I had to take. I wasn't waiting on her in the traditional sense. No...I was able to serve her...to love her...simply by being there...by holding her....by lifting her up. I was able to love and comfortable and help...just by being present to her...and letting her use me. So now whenever my pride starts to clamor about the next big thing I can do for God, I am going to remind myself, maybe God doesn't need a waiter...maybe He just needs a plate.

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