Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
The Gift of Significant Hours
“(She) who lives to benefit (herself) confers a benefit on the world when (she) dies.”
What vision does the idea of unselfish living bring to my mind?
“If you take little account of yourself, you will have peace, wherever you live.”
“Lord, help us to be faithful in loving those You have brought into our lives. Keep us free from needless distractions so that we can give our best energies in faithful service to them and to You.”
“Unselfishness” – Generous. Liberal in sharing.
When I was 14-years-old, I became the age when you could apply and get, what at that time, was called a “Work Permit.” After receiving this piece of paper, an employer could hire you because your “age” had been verified and employers wouldn’t be breaking any “Child Labor Laws.”
From the time I got my permit, I’ve always worked. Sometimes much harder than others, two or three jobs at a time, in order to make ends meet.
Consequently, especially during the years when most women are bearing children, my social activities were very limited. The long hours I worked made it impossible to squeeze in any time for friends. Especially girlfriends. In fact, I’ll go so far to say that I often thought sitting down to chat over a cup of coffee was nothing but a waste of time. I had more productive things to do, or so I thought.
Somewhere between raising children and conquering the workplace, we women have, way too often cast aside those precious moments which allow us to infuse each others’ lives with the grace of eternity – that heavenly wisdom planted in the heart of every daughter of God.
And so, we busy bees find out that when tragedy strikes, and the calamities of life undermine the foundation we’re standing on, instead of having a network of loving hands that catch us and seek to soothe our wounds, like drowning individuals, floundering in the sea without life jackets, when someone comes to help, we tend to drag them under with us instead of being the buoyant lift that is critically needed. And this brings us to today’s lesson from the life of Jephthah’s daughter.
Facing an uncertain future because of her father’s disastrous mistake, this girl asked for one last favor. She didn’t ask for time with her family, but instead, she wanted to be allowed to take several months to bask in the fellowship of her “female associates” or “companions,” as the Bible calls these women.
I want to stop right here and ask you a question. If a dear friend came to you and informed you they had only two months to live and they wanted you to go away with them for the time they had left, what would your answer be? What excuses might you try to come up with in order to get out of going with them?
As I thought about this question myself, it was as though a flood of excuses I’d used in my own life came rushing through my mind. Excuses I gave to get out of going places or doing things I found “unworthy” in my busy life! Not that the reasons I’ve used were untrue. They weren’t. It’s just that when asked to put aside what I wanted for what someone else needed, in retrospect, I’ve often found my own life woefully lacking.
Yet, in the case of Jephthah’s daughter, the Bible doesn’t tell us that any of her friends said, “What I’m doing in my life is too important for me to make time for you!” Instead, a special group of companions rallied to the side of their friend to assist her, when she needed it most.
Sometimes we look at those who give in this generous way and think they have more free time than we do. But, I’ve found something very unusual through the years. Those girlfriends who regularly take time to do the most for others are often those who have the least time available. Yet, the stream of unselfishness traveling through their lives appears to have an unending source upon which they draw.
When Jim and I were, for months, in the hospital trying to learn to walk again, my mother wanted to help our healing process by bringing home-cooked food for at least one meal each day. What made this task very difficult was that although my mom was retired, my 90-year-old grandmother lived with her and needed a great deal of attention. For nearly five months, 8-10 of my mother’s closest friends came and sat with grandma while my mother drove to the hospital with delicious food. These dearest of friends didn’t just sit around sipping coffee. They dusted and vacuumed. They did the wash. Anything my mother needed – they would do. No task was too menial. No task too boring. Their friend, Ellen, needed them, and their goal was to lift the load of their friend.
This past week – one of my friends – whose husband had emergency surgery, and now she is feeling the overwhelming load of his care as she works full-time and handles the needs of an elderly father, said to me, “Someone I hardly know called on Sunday and showed up at my house with a casserole of food. You have no idea what a relief it was. And for an hour, they stayed and we had tea. Dorothy, this meant the world to me,” she continued with tears in her eyes.
Jephthah’s daughter asked her companions for two months. I’ve never had anyone ask me for that much time. But I have had my friends ask for an hour or two, and something I’ve learned is that I always feel more refreshed when I say, “Yes,” and take the time to share with those I love and care about.
How about you? Is there someone who needs a moment of your time today? Is there a note of “Thanks” you’ve been meaning to write? Or possibly there’s a call you need to make to let someone know you are thinking about them?
I love these words written by the great Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “I always think that we live, spiritually, by what others have given us in the significant hours of our life. These significant hours do not announce themselves as coming, but arrive unexpected.”
It is my prayer that you and I will be there for our friends in those “unexpected significant hours “of life when they need the companionship and support of dear friends, whether it is for one brief moment, for two months, or an entire lifetime.
“I want to love like You, Lord,
letting go of my greed for glory,
giving those I love the freedom to be themselves.
But giving up self-centeredness
is harder than giving up life itself.
Help me to do it.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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