This is a story I know you will want to read! Pediatrician David Cerqueira shares a story of how a dying girl showed his church the honor of serving God.
“One Sunday my wife had prepared a lesson on being useful. She taught the children that everyone can be useful, that usefulness is serving God and that doing so is worthy of honor. The kids quietly soaked up my wife’s words, and as the lesson ended, there was a short moment of silence. [A little girl named] Sarah spoke up. “Teacher, what can I do? I don’t know how do to many useful things.”
“Not anticipating that kind of response, my wife quickly looked around and spotted an empty flower vase on the windowsill. “Sarah, you can bring in a flower and put it in the vase. That would be a useful thing.” Sarah frowned. “But that’s not important.” “It is,” replied my wife, “if you are helping someone.”
“Sure enough, the next Sunday Sarah brought in a dandelion and placed it in the vase. In fact, she continued to do so each week. Without reminders or help, she made sure the vase was filled with a bright yellow flower, Sunday after Sunday.
“When my wife told our pastor about Sarah’s faithfulness, he placed the vase upstairs in the main sanctuary next to the pulpit. That Sunday he gave a sermon on the honor of serving others, using Sarah’s vase as an example. The congregation was touched by the message, and the week started on a good note.
“During that same week I got a call from Sarah’s mother. She worried that Sarah seemed to have less energy than usual and that she didn’t have an appetite. Offering her some reassurances, I made room in my schedule to see Sarah the following day. After Sarah had a battery of tests and days of examinations, I sat numbly in my office, Sarah’s paperwork on my lap. The results were tragic. [She had leukemia.]
“On the way home, I stopped to see Sarah’s parents so that I could personally give them the sad news. Sarah’s genetics and the leukemia that was attacking her small body were a horrible mix. Sitting at their kitchen table, I did my best to explain to Sarah’s parents that nothing could be done to save her life. I don’t think I have ever had a more difficult conversation than the one that night.
“Time pressed on. Sarah became confined to bed and to the visits that many people gave her. She lost her smile. She lost most of her weight. And then it came: another telephone call. Sarah’s mother asked me to come see her. I dropped everything and ran to the house.
“There she was, a small bundle that barely moved. After a short examination, I knew that Sarah would soon be leaving this world. I urged her parents to spend as much time as possible with her. That was a Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning church started as usual. The singing, the sermon it all seemed meaningless when I thought of Sarah. I felt enveloped in sadness.
“At the end of the sermon, the pastor suddenly stopped speaking. His eyes wide, he stared at the back of the church with utter amazement. Everyone turned to see what he was looking at. It was Sarah! Her parents had brought her for one last visit. She was bundled in a blanket, a dandelion in one little hand.
“She didn’t sit in the back row. Instead she slowly walked to the front of the church where her vase still perched by the pulpit. She put her flower in the vase and a piece of paper beside it. Then she returned to her parents. Seeing little Sarah place her flower in the vase for the last time moved everyone.
“At the end of the service, people gathered around Sarah and her parents, trying to offer as much love and support as possible. I could hardly bear to watch. Four days later, Sarah died. I wasn’t expecting it, but our pastor asked to see me after the funeral.
“We stood at the cemetery near our cars as people walked past us. In a low voice he said, “Dave, I’ve got something you ought to see.” He pulled out of his pocket the piece of paper that Sarah had left by the vase. Holding it out to me, he said, “You’d better keep this; it may help you in your line of work.”
“I opened the folded paper to read, in pink crayon, what Sarah had written: “Dear God, This vase has been the biggest honor of my life. Sarah.” Sarah’s note and her vase have helped me to understand. I now realize in a new way that life is an opportunity to serve God by serving people. And, as Sarah put it, that is the biggest honor of all.” (Today’s Christian International 2008)
In speaking with Josh, Eddie, Danny, Andy and Leena – it seems to me that serving on Wednesdays evenings can be draining at times. The youth we serve in this ministry come from a variety of homes, places and lifestyles that are foreign to many who grew up in the church. Yet, they all have a desire to discover something, and I believe that is why they continue to come back. They don t know what that something is, or who He is. Yet they know there is something here. So we keep on serving the Lord by serving these youth and their families.
Day after day, week after week and month after month. Some days are better than others, just like it is in our own homes. Some days the youth listen better and other days they push the limits. I have looked back over the many years that I served the Lord; the many youth, young adults and adults my life has touched and theirs mine. I have to say It was and is my greatest honor to serve you Lord, with what you gave me and where you placed me. The biggest honor of my life.
I know that I haven t always seen it that way, so I am asking the Lord to touch my heart and my mind and change me so that I will always see serving others as my honor unto the Lord.
As we attend Sunday morning services and go through the week touching lives, I pray that we see the many opportunities the Lord gives to each of us as opportunities to serve others. I pray that we see these opportunities as an honor unto the Lord, even though many of those we serve will think otherwise. Maybe there is one person in your life that you can serve for the Lord today and for many days to come, so that this one person might one day find Jesus as Lord?
Maybe your task is just a simple flower, a kind word or even a prayer. Whatever the Lord calls you to do, try to see it as an honor of serving the Lord in that area. What you do for Him does matter! He is counting on all of us to do our part to build the Kingdom of God.
See you Sunday!