"...I was getting anxious about letting him stay alone until morning when his night nurse came in to pass meds and do her rounds. She listened to what I had to say and treated him appropriately (at least in my medical opinion...)
"But what was really remarkable was when she came over to Charlie, she addressed him as Pastor and began preaching words of healing and claiming promises of God for him. It was spectacular. She spoke of healing that had already taken place and just waiting for the manifestation. She claimed healing by Jesus' stripes and quoted a bucket load of scripture for him.
"He soaked it all in and before she was done she laid hands on him (albeit covered in a glove) and prayed for him to be restored to his office and it was all very, very good. It was a great sermon. Thank you Jesus for your church and for bold people of God throughout it and tonight, especially for our nurse Towana Carter. Amen."
(Written by Julie Kurtz, from Pr. Charlie Kurtz's CaringBridge website, June 2012 - used with permission)
When I read this account, I was touched by the blessing this nurse brought to her patient. I also grieved, wondering how many such opportunities I'd missed in my own nursing career. As I pondered this all in my heart, I recalled the words "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?" That question from the Gospel of Matthew has always puzzled me. How could someone NOT know that they had given food and drink to someone in need?
We recognize different sorts of investments. Some invest money for retirement. Parents invest in their children's future by helping them through the cost of advanced education. We might label these as calculated investments. We expect a return for our labors.
But, we may not give much thought to some insignificant response - like that cup of cold water - we give as part of our daily routine. We may not know this side of eternity what these unknown investments have meant to the life of another. Then, again, God may allow us a glimpse.
Just as I was nearing the end of my tour of duty in Vietnam, one day on the ward one of my young corpsmen nearly moved me to tears telling me how much I had meant to him. He told me that he didn't have a sister, but if he did, he'd want her to be just like me. To hear him, one might think I had given him daily encouragement, but I could only recall one occasion when he surprised me and I blurted out, "Jackson, I'm impressed! I didn't know you knew all that - good job!"
Here this 18-year-old kid from the farm, who was always getting himself into trouble (needing our wardmaster to take him under his wing), demonstrated that he knew his job well enough to teach the young Vietnamese women how to do their work on our ward. I didn't give my words a second thought. Yet, they meant the world to this young man.
These unrecognized, spontaneous investments might be what that verse recorded in Matthew 25:37 is all about. Pastor Charlie had no idea, as he invested in Bible and seminary study, in pastoral duties, in looking after family, friends and flock, that he would suffer a brain aneurysm. He wasn't calculating a return on his investment in the form of the numbers of people rallying to his support in his time of need. Likewise his nurse Towana was totally unaware how the Lord would magnify her time spent in His Word, as it overflowed into the life of her patient and beyond to the rest of us.
So, when we are discouraged - aren't we all? - that we have failed to measure up to what we hoped we would be, whether in our work or as friend, spouse, parent or grandparent, let's keep this in mind. Perhaps we aren't supposed to know. Perhaps, like St. Paul, this is our thorn in the flesh to keep us from being puffed up over our achievements! Just don't let the adversary rob us of the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. - 2 Corinthians 4:7 RSV
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33 KJV
---Edy T Johnson---
Originally published as the "Salt & Light Report" for St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church (19th & Portland, Minneapolis, MN) September 2012 Messenger
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Thanks Edy. I think all of us want to make a difference for Christ in the lives we touch. I think one of the most surprised people in heaven was Stephen when Paul entered the pearly gates! He never knew his testimony would effect the young man holding the cloaks of those throwing stones to kill him. Yes, we can't let the adversary rob us of the joy of the Lord. We never know the true return of our investment for the Lord in the lives of others until we get to heaven! Amen!
Very well written and organized. It is so true to spend much time dwelling on our failures and never see the things, small things done for Christ Glory. I don't think every thorn in the flesh is some illness or physical ailment. For some of us it might be lost family or other broken relationships. Despite every grief or heartache, we must still represent Him well. Amen!!!