Shortly before her death in February 1971, my mother did an oil painting for me. It has become a silent "friend" of mine, a mute yet eloquent expression of my calling. It is a picture of a shepherd with his sheep. The man is standing all alone with his crook in his hand, facing the hillside with sheep here and there. You cannot see the shepherd's face, but the little woolies surrounding him have personalities all their own. Some have the appearance of being devoted and loving, one looks independent and stubborn, another is starting to wander in the distance. But the shepherd is there with his flock, faithfully and diligently tending them.
The rather large piece of art hangs in my study with a light above it. There are times when I am bone-weary after a long day of people demands, preaching, teaching, leading, or just meeting with people as I travel. Quite often when I come home after a day like that, I will come into my study and turn off the lights and leave on only the small light over that unique painting. It helps me keep my perspective. It is a reminder . . . a simple, silent affirmation that I am right where God wants me, doing the very things He wants me to do. There is something very encouraging about taking a final look at the shepherd with his sheep at the end of my day.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus painted a portrait of a servant that is both enlightening and encouraging (Matthew 5:3-12). His promises are assuring and His repeated reminders ("Blessed are") are affirming. He has described our calling as His servants by explaining our role as:
- Poor in spirit
- Hungering and thirsting for righteousness
- Pure in heart
As we turn out all the other lights that distract us, it helps to concentrate our full attention on these eight specifics. The question we now must face is: Can such a person as this really influence a stubborn, competitive, strong-willed world? Is it possible for servants to make an impact?
In reply, I offer a resounding "Yes!" In our tasteless, dark world, servants actually become the only source of salt and light.
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