Revelation 15:3 They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.”
Of all the titles that are given to people on Earth by God, the word ‘servant’ is the most honorific. To serve God and to serve others in this life are wonderful gifts, and for those of us who have been the recipients of true service, the blessings are many.
My mother-in-law, Barbara Smith, was such a person. She truly served her family all of her life. She looked after her ageing parents on a daily basis and her sense of duty toward them was both humbling and amazing to see. Babs cared extensively for her mom when she was dying of cancer; and she looked after her father lovingly each day when he became a widower. She did his laundry, cooked his meals, and looked after his medication without any real complaints. She was tired, weary, and exhausted at times because she had a full time job, as well as looking after her own family, but she always served her Dad respectfully and dutifully.
Babs was also an excellent wife to Bill. She looked after everything for him, and devoted much of her life to serving him. Like most of their generation, Bill and Babs had their struggles. Their firstborn son John died of leukemia as an infant, which must have been a terrible heartache for both of them. However, in the midst of their pain and loss, they stayed together and raised three more children – Evelyn, Billy, and David – who were constantly loved and served by Babs. Whatever they wanted, she provided. Whatever support they needed, she gave. Her role as matriarch to her own family was built upon her decades of service that she sacrificially bestowed upon them as wife and mother. As expected, she cared deeply for Bill, especially in his later years when he was suffering from dementia. She served him as well as any wife could, right up until the time when he required full professional care.
When grandchildren came into her life, Babs opened her heart and home for all of them. She was proud of each and every one of them. As usual, she served them fully with love and care, food and friendship. In her later years, after decades of working as a home help in the community, she devoted her retirement to all of her family. She lived for them because she loved them; she served them because cherished them.
As her son-in-law, Babs and I had a good relationship. She allowed and welcomed me into her family life, as she did for Jacqueline, her daughter-in-law. We did have our moments, but overall I felt very fortunate to have someone as caring as Babs in my own life. When I lived with her Dad for two years, I also was well looked after. Her home cooking and wonderful baking were amazing. Her homemade tripe soup and coconut cake were the best I've ever tasted.
Tragedy revisited Babs when her youngest son David died suddenly a couple of years ago. Her heartache at losing two sons in this life must have deeply wounded her emotionally, but she still continued on, living her life for the rest of her family. She truly was a remarkable woman.
Her faith in God was severely tested throughout her life, however she remained a servant of His Kingdom despite the struggles and pain that she endured. She has now gone beyond the surly bonds of Earth into the eternal realms of Heaven, to be reunited with all of her loved ones, whom she served dutifully and beautifully in this world. As I stated before, there is no greater honorific title on Earth than to be called a servant by God. Babs exemplified that title with her own sacrificial life. The beauty about her is this: I see those same gifts and qualities in the life of her daughter Evelyn, who is my wife, as well as in the lives of my daughters Lynsey and Lauren.
May God bless you all this day; and may He also give us opportunities to serve our loved ones and others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
John Stuart is pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a question of today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.