The Servant

12 03 2012

ImageAutumn is really the best of the seasons; and I’m not sure that old age isn’t the best part of life.  C.S. Lewis

We received a call late this last week from an individual requesting my lady and I come and provide music for a service Sunday morning.  I generally prefer more notice when asked to perform so we can have a chance to prepare what we choose to play more efficiently.  But when Cathy told me who was on the other end of the line making the request, there was no second thought, “You bet, we’ll come right now if you need us to!” 

Don had been professor of music at the first college I attended back in the 70s.  This was at the small Christian college I had chosen to attend and what brought us to Indiana to begin with.  It would be too long a saga to go into at this time, but it seemed I had a number of misconceptions of what going to a Christian school was going to be like. There was a lot good there for sure and I came away with a number of views I hold strongly to, to this day.  But there were a few matters, shall we say, that I just didn’t understand and I felt were wrong.  I’m also sure my maturity level back then was not where it should have been either, which added to any negativity I found in my situation. (Just being honest folks.)  I had decided to leave school after the first year, and I would have; had it not been for Don.  Here was a man who was head of the school’s music department, taught a full load of classes himself, conducted several choirs and led singing at a large church.  To say his life was busy would be an understatement, and I had no business bothering this man with my personal problems; but I didn’t have to, he took them upon himself.  Over the next 2 years I would find myself in Don’s office having lengthy conversations, and he gave me something I wasn’t finding anywhere else, he listened to me.  Not only did he listen, but he respected my concerns and what I had to say.  In return he taught me a new chapter in my life of growing in maturity, Christian maturity, plus who I was and who other people were, and how God loves each and every one of us.

I did finally leave the school and finished my degree at another university, but I came away with a better respect of what I received from that 1st institution and a deep admiration for a man who listened and guided me through a rough time in my life, with a kind heart and prayer; I never forgot Don.

Over the years our paths would cross with regularity and the friendship that began way back still stayed intact.  There were times Don would call on me to help with a task not so much for himself, but more often someone else he knew that had a need.  On a few occasions he would ask Cathy and I to do music for something.  In everything I’ve ever been called on by this wonderful man to carry out, it has been for the purpose of meeting a need for others.  That, my friend, is what I define as a Leader with a Servant’s Heart; what I call a hero.

A few years back Don saw a need at a local retirement village here in our region.  This facility is quite large in size and is the final earthly home to many folks that have served in missions all over the world as well as retired pastors and anyone else.  They have a large chapel there for the residents to take in Sunday service, but there are ones who have moved to a point in life where they physically can’t make it to the place where services are held, so a smaller room in an area for “assisted living residents” was established for these precious saints.  Nearly everyone who attends needs the use of a walker, wheelchair or staff member to escort them there.  The gentleman who presides as pastor is in a wheelchair himself. Each Sunday Don’s wife plays the piano, Don leads the singing and the pastor preaches from his wheelchair some of the most powerful sermons I am blessed to be able to hear.  All three have worked and served all their lives and all three continue to do so; even in their mid 80s.  When the service starts and the music begins the room is filled with singing that echoes down the corridor, maybe not the most melodic choir you’ll ever hear, but one that definitely brings forth a “Joyful Noise!”  When the preaching begins every eye and ear is focused in on what the message is.  And whenever Cathy and I perform there they are, without a doubt, the most pleasing and appreciative audience we’ve ever had; what an awesome time!

“The measure of life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” Corrie Ten Boom

When I sat down this evening I had planned to write a different story than the one you’ve just read. Perhaps it was because I had just come from being with these wonderful people and my good friend Don that I changed directions; or perhaps, as sometimes happens, God nudges me to go this way instead of that.  All I know is that it has weighed heavy on my heart today.  One writer once wrote, “Your manner of life now is already determining your life in those years of old age and retirement, without your realizing it even, and perhaps without your giving enough thought to it.  One must therefore prepare oneself for retirement.”  One person said it to me this way, “It doesn’t matter to me what I achieved, the important question is what can I still contribute?”

My friend Don has influenced and blessed thousands over the years with his gifts and talents, often in large settings.  Today, along with his Lady and the pastor on wheels, they influence, bless, and serve with gladness a couple of dozen who wouldn’t have a Sunday service if it wasn’t for them.  It makes me think about how I use my life now and how, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, how I can stay productive, to help, to serve till then end.  Lot to think about, yes?  In my belief it’s worth thinking and doing, and yes, I fully believe serving has its own rewards.  On earth, there’s joy for helping and bringing others happiness.  After this life, well for ones like my man Don, it’s hearing those six little words that make it all worthwhile: “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant.”

Thanks for reading about one of my Heroes. 🙂


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