Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Just the other day, Robert asked if he was a burden to me or if I was getting tired of doing stuff to help him. Of course, I said it was no trouble at all and that I was happy to serve him. I reminded him that I loved him and that God loved him, too.

After I prayed for Robert, I went home to eat dinner with my family.

But on the way home I thought about this a little more. In the beginning, my times with Robert were a little challenging and frustrating to me. Back when he was still living in the motel he and I would often grind gears over certain issues. Usually, I was the one who made Robert angry because I was doing things for him that he hadn't asked me to do. Eventually, I learned that, unless Robert had specifically asked me to do something, I should not do it. In time, Robert had trained me to listen to him intently and only do exactly what he asked me to do. Otherwise, I allowed him to do as much for himself as he possibly could.

Lately, Robert has been unable to do very much for himself at all. Sitting up in bed is a struggle for him. He will not allow me to pull him up by his hand because the day he needs my help - or anyone else's - to do something as simple as sit up in bed, he knows that the end is near. I understand that he also wants to do as much for himself as he can - for as long as he can - before the cancer takes that away from him.

What I do for Robert is still not very much, in my opinion. Yet, in his mind, I'm already doing too much. It was after I had pushed him in his wheelchair from outside and I helped him take off his shoes and placed them in front of his chair that he asked me if I was getting tired of helping him. Of course, he stood up on his own, and he walked to his bed on his own, and he laid down by himself. All I did during all of this was to watch him, and to stand ready to steady him should he begin to fall backwards.

The truth is that it is actually getting easier for me to serve Robert lately. I think this is partly because, in the beginning, I was too wrapped up in trying to be his pastor. I was trying hard to change Robert's attitude on my own. I was feeling frustrated that he was stubborn and heard-headed. Of course, God used this frustration to show me how much Robert and I were alike. As I began to see myself in him, I found more patience with him.

Over time I've been learning how to be his friend instead of trying to change him. I've also begun to develop a new perspective on what God is doing in Robert's life, and in my life through Robert.

Now I can't wait to talk to Robert about all of this. I want him to understand what Jesus is doing in my heart as I spend time with him, and I want to thank Robert for being part of God's working in my heart to humble me and change me.

I think that's one of the unexpected miracles of serving others. We start out believing that we have the answers and all the resources they lack, but in truth we end up being blessed even more than those we hope to serve.

It's amazing for me to realize that, after all this time, the real ministry taking place might actually be from Robert to me. Or, at least, that both of us are being changed through this process of serving and being served.

What a wonderful mystery of life in the Kingdom.