Ministry Reversed (Ephesians 5:16)
On my way to the rehab facility, I prayed, “God, help me to somehow encourage Rachel. She’s my friend, and I want to minister to her.”
I parked in the lot and clutched my gift, a mug of chocolates I knew Rachel would enjoy. Hadn’t we talked about mocha cappuccinos before she ended up in this facility, saddled with chronic pain?
She lay in the bed, almost as white as the sheets pulled up to her chin. A horrible reaction to the medicines that fought infection almost killed her. A broken femur still healed within her skeletal frame. A paraplegic for many years, any type of medical emergency required extra months for Rachel’s immune system to kick in. Now she faced several months away from her home and endured hourly dressings and careful maneuvering to keep her circulation healthy.
A nurse practitioner walked briskly into the room and offered Rachel her afternoon meds with a fizzy cola. He seemed kind, although a bit distant. Perhaps my presence made him uncomfortable but after all, I had come to see Rachel. I had marked several things off my schedule just to have this time available for ministry. As I stood beside the bed, I fingered the mug of chocolates and wondered how to best cheer my friend.
Rachel and the nurse spoke briefly about the mild October weather. “I promise not to jump out of bed and run outside,” Rachel joked.
The nurse smiled at the impossibility while I chuckled along with my friend.
After the nurse left the room, Rachel turned to me and said, “I’m not sure if he knows God. I’m hoping to be a witness and remind him that God’s love is always available. Pray that I’ll be an effective witness. Okay? What is that verse…make the most of every opportunity? That’s what I want to do.”
Rachel’s words stopped me cold. Just that morning, I complained to God that my job didn’t feel fulfilling. Wasn’t there something else I could do that would better use my gifts, pay more of a salary and allow me to spend more time doing what I really enjoyed? Wasn’t there a way I could be more of a witness, yet at the same time, enjoy my life?
Yet here was my friend, paralyzed from the waist down, strapped in a bed yet hoping to use the situation to honor God.
She was living Ephesians 5:16, “…making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil,” and she was doing it with joy in the midst of a terrible circumstance.
We chatted about nothing and everything for a while, then I prayed for Rachel’s healing and promised to visit again soon. Back in my car, I locked the door and bowed my head over the steering wheel. “Forgive me, God, for my whiny attitude. Please give Rachel the healing she needs and endurance for this medical challenge. Help her, God, to use every opportunity to share your love and be your witness while she is here. Remind me every day how blessed I am to have a job, to be in good health and to find my fulfillment in you.”
Although I intended to encourage my friend, she was the one who ministered to me with her positive attitude and sweet spirit. Her example is a reminder I hope will keep me free from a complaining spirit and help me focus on sharing with others the love of God.
Ephesians 5:15-17, NLT: “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Share with us in the comments:
How can you make the most of every opportunity, as Rachel does? Who can you share God’s love with today?