God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
I Peter 4:10-11 (New Living Translation)
I am helping to say goodbye to a friend at his memorial service this weekend. I knew him for about 45 years, having first met him as he was being discharged from a hospital. He lived a remarkable life, yet the vast majority of the world never knew him. They did not know his struggles with serious physical and emotional deficits brought on by devastating seizures he had since birth.
Having some significant physical and cognitive deficits did not deter this man from living a full, meaningful life. He began volunteering at a young age helping to teach swimming to kids with more serious challenges than his own. It was a way to “give back” he often said. He was known around his small town as a dedicated volunteer, and he was recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” in that town several years ago.
He suffered from debilitating seizures, but in 1990, when he was 40 years old, he had neurosurgery which effectively ended those seizures. Five years later, at age 45, he learned to drive. Because he wanted to serve others, he used a car- one donated to him by a family who’s relative he cared for- to give rides to people for medical visits, shopping, etc.
He spent most of his days volunteering at a local food pantry and Christian outreach center running errands, stocking shelves, encouraging others.
He died last week, a victim of complications of COVID-19. He had a number of physical problems later in his life, but he never allowed those health problems to get in the way of serving others.
The verses above will be used in his memorial service. Fitting, I think, for a person who chose to give meaning to his life by a life of service to others.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of life, and the opportunity to use it for your people, Amen.