In my morning reading, I covered Proverbs 29 today. One verse, in particular, has lingered with me throughout the hours since then. Some verses in Proverbs are quite succinct, some delightfully blunt, others challenge you to wrestle with them. And some, like verse 19 from this chapter, invite reflection. The Lord says, "A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond."
Some years ago, I overheard a conversation between a Sunday School teacher and a little girl. The child was reporting back on completion of a task and shared something else she'd done as well. "That's wonderful," the teacher replied, adding, "what a beautiful servant you are." I was struck. I'd never heard such words. We are complimented for being smart, witty, wise, or beautiful - but for having the heart of a servant? And I knew then that I had just witnessed one soul being used as an instrument of God to point another to the narrow way whereby we follow the Savior. I don't know if that child remembers that little exchange with her teacher today, but this soul does.
All over the bible we read stories and sentences that deal with this issue of servanthood - and clearly there are two different kinds. In one camp we find wicked and foolish ones, to phrase it without any sort of embellishment or delicacy. In the other are the faithful and obedient ones. This morning's verse speaks specifically to one who should be serving, isn't, is corrected verbally, understands, but refuses to obey. In fact, it says he cannot be corrected with mere words.
It appears something more is needed. How I wish it weren't!
Why can't we just want to obey? Why must we struggle to walk rightly before this awesome, unfathomable, lover of our souls? Why do we fight identifying in action with the One who came to serve?
A book I have been reading of late has given me greater pause as I approach the throne in prayer. Not to stop and cower in dread, but to rightly acknowledge the One who invites me to this relationship as I am. All my pride gets distilled and placed into a thimble, I fall back on my butt in sensibility of His majesty, and I recognize myself as a Less Than. I am! So much less than I need to be, than I want to be, than I know I must be if I am to live as He calls me to. And in realization of myself as a Less Than, I acquire a deeper understanding of how much I need Him to be The Greater Than. And He is!
So dear Lord, please do what only You can do in my life, in the lives of those I love, and in the world. Help us, when we get it all turned around and backward. Give us eyes and hearts and ears to see and listen and understand what we need to. And when we foolishly won't listen, do what is necessary, but do not leave us to our lives of Less Than.
Please, do not do that.