Living A Full Life Includes Serving and Being Served

 

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15

Only in Matthew’s Gospel do we read about this miraculous healing. At first glance, we would think this verse is only about healing.  After all, Jesus did heal many people during his three years of ministry.

But, there’s more to this small verse than what meets the eye. Besides the healing she received, her brief bio shows us how to live a fulfilled life without seeking the spotlight.

This verse says a lot about not only serving but being served as well. It’s about those that don’t need to be the “center of attention,” but are happiest at fulfilling a supportive role.

Her miracle healing is not to be sidelined for anything.  As I mentioned in the above story my friend Jim received a miraculous healing. My dad has survived two near fatal heart attacks.

In my early twenties I experienced a miracle phone call that kept me from dying. Just a little earlier on the day of my phone call I’d an accident while riding my bicycle. Little did I know that I had burst my vulva on impact by hitting my bike frame when I had to come to an abrupt halt. I was crossing a street when a car came out of nowhere and nearly crushed me and my bike.

So while on my way home I began to seep blood. But I was too dazed and in pain to know what to do. This is when I was single and lived alone in a small Southern Georgia town. I was almost home when this happened so I was able to make it to my apartment.

Within a few minutes of getting inside, my sister Carol called me from two hundred miles away because God placed me on her mind at that crucial time. I explained what had happened to her. She, then called my employer. From there he got the hospital to send an ambulance out to my apartment. That miracle phone call saved my life.

Yes, miracles still do happen. No question about that. But, lets look at the “serve and being served” message that’s woven into this verse. It’s not only what she did, but it’s what Jesus did, and what Peter and his wife did also.

Now, unfortunately, we don’t know her name, but countless people are serving in Christ’s name all over the World and only a few are ever known by name.

After her healing she promptly served Jesus. Now, to me this shows her gratefulness of being healed. But, it also shows her exercising her gift of service.

Doing this may have been expected of her. But still, Jesus didn’t heal everyone he walked by, either.  He waited four days to go see about his friend Lazarus who was very ill. By that time Lazarus had died, and been buried. But he experienced a miraculous resurrection when Jesus came to his grave. The whole amazing story is found in John 11:1-44.

Jesus doesn’t always heal. I can’t explain it, I just know that sometimes healing happens and sometimes it doesn’t. What I can say, though is the last year of my brother Gene’s life we all helped him in every way we could. Doing that brought all of us closer together. That’s worth more to us than what any of us could describe.

Getting back to our verse, we know that a special bond had formed between Jesus, and three of his disciples: Peter, John, and James. Did that make a difference in this story? I don’t think so, but it is God’s desire that we all draw near to Jesus (Hebrews 10:22).

So, this verse show’s us the importance of having meaningful relationships where we can draw close to a friend. That’s part of what makes life fulfilling.  We read about God’s love for us and how he doesn’t condemn us in John 3:16,17.

She could’ve chosen to be the “center of attention” since she was miraculously healed. But, she chose to serve instead. People who exercise their gift of service rarely want to be in the spotlight. But, receiving a well deserved “Thank you” is appreciated by all.

Jesus, himself, taught this very concept of service:

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

Part of any meaningful relationship is to receive as well as to give. Peter and his wife welcomed her into their home. We don’t read that her presence made it difficult.  What we do read is that she used her gift of service in their home. Her help would’ve been appreciated by the entire family.

Peter’s concerned for her health shows his care for her. I’m sure they had tried the usual ancient ways to lower her fever by this time. But the herbs and cooling baths weren’t curing her.

Peter believed she needed a touch by none other than Jesus, himself. So he urged Jesus to visit his home and heal his ill in-law. And that’s just what happened.

This instance may have been the impetus of him writing latter on:

 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Some translations use the word “care” instead of anxieties. But, it’s the same idea with either word. We don’t have to carry our emotional burdens around needlessly. Peter was concerned about his mother-in-law so he went to Jesus about it.

Jesus always cared about others first. Here we see that he cared about her health foremost. This shows that we can’t work our way into having a relationship with the Savior.

After he healed her he spent time with all that were gathered there. In those days you just didn’t “drop in” for coffee. There’s no doubt that all the guests stayed and had a meal together. Since she served Jesus this meant that she sat near or behind him during the meal. So she would’ve been in his presence from her healing through the end of the meal.

Having meaningful relationships and being fully engaged in whatever our gifts and talents are is an important part to living our lives to the fullest. This is what brings satisfaction and fullness to not only ourselves, but to others also.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a miracle as well. I’d like to hear about it, but of course I would want some proof of it happening. I’m always looking for a good story to add to my next self-published book.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).

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Living Life To The Fullest

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15*

You may not see it at first glance, but the woman in this verse got to live a fulfilled life. Not only did she experience a miraculous healing but she also got to be a part of Jesus’s ministry while he was here on Earth.

Her family might’ve thought she was near death with the fever.  But Peter wasn’t ready to “throw in the towel” just yet. He went and got Jesus to come and touch her hand.

At some point we’re all going to “step into eternity.”  But, only God knows when that is going to happen. No one else does. Not even the doctors.

I got to hear a great story about a miracle healing recently when I attended a high school get-together at a downtown park here in my hometown. I saw some of my former classmates sitting at our booth so I sat down with them. I had just gotten a sloppy BBQ sandwich that had a heap of coleslaw added to it. And sitting with friends is always a good way to enjoy any evening.

We all were catching up with each other there in the booth while waving to others who were milling around. We were having a great time listening to a band that was “rockin'” out some classic Rock-n-Roll tunes.

That’s when James “Jim” Raby sat down beside me.  We had graduated together quite a few decades back and have crossed paths in our small town a few times since then. So we were just catching up on family, Sylva news, and so on.

Then, Jim showed me a picture of himself on his phone that a family member had taken a year or so back. In the photo he was lying on a hospital bed looking “white as a sheet” while being on a ventilator.

Jim told the few of us that were gathered there the entire story of how he nearly died while visiting his daughter and her family a year or so back.  Here’s what he said as best as I remembered it:

He told us that while he was visiting his daughter in Alabama he had fallen ill. He had only gone there for a short visit, but ended up staying longer than he had anticipated.

Since he has other health problems, his daughter admitted him to the hospital where he could get the care he needed. Well unfortunately, his health went from “bad to worse” quickly. Within a few brief days his children were called in to say their final goodbyes.

Jim apparently had some prayer warriors there in the hospital room, also. But even so, they felt that they had prayed all they could and were ready to accept what seemed as the inevitable.

Early, on the morning that his daughter was preparing to say her final “good byes” to her dad she had a woman she knew from her church to visit her. The women believed she had a prophetic message for Jim’s daughter.

This woman brought with her a vial of anointing oil. After the two women prayed together she poured the oil over Jim’s daughter’s head. Then told her to take her Bible, go pray for, and read the scripture over her dad in his hospital room one last time.

When his daughter walked into his room she asked that everyone else including the medical staff leave her alone with her dad. Jim told me that she began praying and reading the Bible as she had been directed to do by her early morning visitor.

Within that time frame he began improving. A day or two later he left the VA hospital. When he had fully recovered he drove himself all the back to Sylva, NC, which is about two hundred miles from his daughter’s house.

Of course, he was told all this by his daughter while recovering at her house. He was clearly out of it by the time that picture was taken that he had showed us.

My dad is also, living life to the fullest. He is 95 years old and is blessed with good health, walks unaided, and has a clear mind. We just celebrated his birthday at my daughter, Ruth and her boyfriend Dennis’ house. We had a big crowed of cousins, my dad’s brother and my aunt,  and other relatives there. You can see some of the pictures of his birthday party on my Facebook page: Patricia Jordan, Sylva NC.

One of my hobbies are to explore my ancestral roots. And since I live about fifty miles from where my American ancestors lived most all their lives, sometimes I go looking for their headstones to gain the “when” information. But I only know the “how” they lived by recalling and listening to all the family stories I’ve heard throughout my life. I hope their lives were as fulfilling as what I’ve heard they were.

Each and everyday you and I live is a day we are adding to our overall life’s story. Our legacy as some would say. Our actions, if used in positive ways can bring others as well as ourselves enrichment and fulfillment.

A great example of this is when my older sister Carol helped our brother Gene during his last year of life. It wasn’t easy and sometimes it didn’t go smoothly. He could be a cantankerous bachelor that was use to doing things for himself at times. But, she did a wonderful job of taking care of him full time while keeping up with her husband and his health issues at their house some fifty miles away.

Our brother Gene was dying of bone cancer, which had at first been misdiagnosed as muscle ache at a walk-in clinic. What he actually had, though was lung cancer that was the result of him being a heavy smoker.

Well, we all knew he probably had emphysema just by hearing him cough and gasp for air. But, it wasn’t easy to get him to go to a doctor without someone prodding him. While my mother was living she tried, and she was the only one he would listen to.  So his cancer went un-diagnosed for a long time.

His lung cancer metastasized into bone cancer. When the muscle relaxers weren’t working it was our dad and stepmother, Sue who drove him to the ER at our local hospital. By the time we all knew what his health status was we all got busy making his life as comfortable as was possible.

Our other brother, David mowed both their yards. Dennis and Ruth came over and put a wilderness camera outside so we all could watch raccoons and opossums visiting his yard on a laptop. Our other sister Deena came over and changed his morphine patch at 5:00 am. Our mother was deceased by this time. But, Sue and dad visited him. Jeff and I did what we could. We all did something or sometimes we simply visited with Gene and watch homesteaders build homes in the Alaska frontier.

Carol did the most though. She moved in and slept on his couch for about four out of seven days at first. But later, she stayed there full time. Carol drove him to all his appointments, got his medications, cooked their meals. She made sure that we had an occasional cookout at Gene’s house, helped him get his flower bed sowed with his favorite annuals, and they planted beans together. Gene lived long enough to set in the Sun, enjoy his flowers, and he even ate those beans too!

We’re all living our own life’s history every day we breathe. Are you happy with where you’re at, at this point and time in your life? If not, then what would make you happy?

I hope you’re not thinking “Oh, if only I had more money in my banking account, then my life would be perfect.” There is an old axiom that applies to that idea. It goes like this: “The more you make, the more you spend.”

A better question to ask yourself is, “Am I content with how my life is turning out? How about my career choices? Are my talents, skills, and / or intellect being fully utilized in what I’m doing?” Not every job requires our talents. But all jobs require our intellect.

Ultimately, we need to occasionally ask ourselves, “Is my life fulfilling? Or am I missing something in the ‘big picture’ of it all.” I’ve spent most of my adult life not working outside the home. I’ve been mostly content with that decision. But, I did want to finish college someday. And so I did when my children were teenagers.

I became a non-traditional college student and attended night school for two years while we lived in Sumter, SC. I graduated Coker College in Hartsville, SC in 2000. We had moved to Sumter from Turkey when my husband Jeff was still in the USAF in the early nineties. And stayed there after his discharge so our girls could finish high school there. I felt restless, so I decided to get my degree I had always wanted during those years.

I thought I might become a Social Worker when I graduated. But, when I started working in that career field I found that it exacerbated my dysthimic depression. So I’ve found other activities to do that have kept me involved and engaged. My volunteerism, writing my blog, and my other activities have made me feel fulfilled and overall contented.

By now I’ve learned the truth of what the Apostle Paul wrote, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11b

Most of your life is up to you. Now there are some ideas that are just not going to work for you or I. But, I’m okay with accepting my limits.

Choosing to live a fulfilled satisfying life is better than chasing after things that become dated as soon as you get that shiny new thing. Or perhaps you’ve chased after a relationship that turned out to be toxic in the end. The list of us going after what we thought would make us happy is endless.

Some relationships may not be for us. Many tangible or intangible things you or I might want will not lead us into living a fulfilled life. What or who will then?

Start by having a relationship with Jesus. Ask Him to come into your heart and help you in making those tough decisions in life.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Earthly relationships need to be as meaningful as possible. But, we need to remember that our relationships have their limits as to what you, or I and the other person can bring into the relationship.

What does living a full life look like for you? I’m not talking about a busy life, but a full rewarding life. That’s a good question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).

 

 

 

Some Problems Require a Miracle

“You are the God who performs miracles;

You display your power among the people.” Psalms 77:14 NIV

We can’t always solve our problems, and often not all on our own. Some of our problems are not solvable, some are solved through time, and some we can solve on our own. Some of our problems are so overwhelming that they require a miracle.

Most of us, well, all of us need some type of support network that we can count on. Especially, when it comes to needing prayer over an issue you or I are facing. We may not know all of who is praying for us in this day of posting our prayer concerns on social media. I often add my concerns to our church prayer list. The important thing, though is to get prayer warriors praying when we need them the most.

Sometimes God just moves on people’s hearts in mysterious ways and our problems get solved through a miracle. The story below describes how I received a miracle when I needed one the most:

Decades ago, I was single and living in a small town in south GA. I had taken a photographer’s assistant job there but lived there less than a year. I was very homesick and lonely. That town is about 200 miles from where I grew up and where my large extended family still lives in, which is WNC.

So while I lived there I had a weird accident on my bicycle, on my way to my apartment. After the accident I was in intense pain but didn’t know what was wrong. I knew that I had injured myself badly, though. I had made it inside the door, but laid on the floor bleeding. My sister Carol called not long after I got into the apartment. She said she felt the need to call me and check on how I was doing. I told her about the accident and that I was bleeding badly. We hung up and she called my employer to let him know that I needed immediate help.

I still remember some guys putting me into an ambulance. I was heavily sedated thereafter. But by the next morning I awoke to see my parents and my oldest sister, Carol standing next to my bed. That whole event was nothing short of a miracle.  

What had happened when I was riding my bike, I had to brake hard and come to a sudden stop. I had avoided colliding with the car. But, in doing so my body slammed up against the support bar (female style bike). That action resulted in me bursting my vulva.

Once I got healed, I moved back to WNC and in a year or so I joined the US Air Force. I went to Germany where I met my husband, Jeff. We have been married over forty years and have three grown daughters and four grandchildren.

Having told you about that long-ago incident or accident, I want to conclude this post with saying that not all problems require miracles to happen in order to solve them. But you and I are better off when we:  

  “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV).

I want to talk about HOPE over the next several posts that I put up. I, like everyone else is busy, though. So my post might seem sporadic. Plus, I need to organize my thoughts on exactly what I want to say, which takes a lot of black coffee and not too many distractions. I made need some luck to avoid the distractions.

I do hope to get some good feedback on my posts on HOPE and how we always need a healthy supply of it.