(A series of eight installments)
Number four – Clipping Toe-Nails
“Lieutenant, can you clip my toe-nails?” I couldn’t remember the toe-nail clipping class at the CFOT, so I thought the request a tad unusual. Elmer was in his mid-eighties and, for the most part, bed-ridden. He had been a long-time Salvationist and his wife still attended the church meetings without him. In fact, our very first Christmas dinner together as a married couple was with Elmer and Mabel, huddled around a very small kitchen table sharing fried rabbit together. Some things you just never forget…
“Lieutenant, can you clip my toe-nails?” I heard the words again and they kind-a woke me out of my contemplation of the request. It wasn’t a matter if I could or not…it was a matter if I wanted to or not. Do you understand my dilemma? I smiled at Elmer, grabbed his big old German foot and commenced to clipping. As I dodged the clippings flying off his toes, the thought crossed my mind that I never expected that the list of my service to the Lord would include clipping toe-nails.
For those readers still with me and not running to the bathroom sick to their tummies, my journey, and it might as well be yours too, is full of things we never thought we’d be asked to do as a service to others, as unto the Lord.
“Hey Lord, can you call me through a burning bush like you did for Moses? Can you cause a great revival of mean, God-hating people like you did for Jonah? Can I be of service to you and kill a giant like David did?”
Now those acts of service sound like great projects and worthy of a servant of the Most High God. However, I have discovered that service looks more like dishing up a plate of spaghetti for the homeless, reading a book to the first grade class, putting away tables and folding chairs for the officer or pastor, and, you guessed it, clipping the toe-nails of an elderly person. It’s not so much about the MIGHTY things as it is about the MUNDANE.
Do you remember the story Jesus told about the ruler, leaving ten servants in charge of the kingdom while he went away? He entrusted them with varying amounts of money and even though the money was small, he complemented and rewarded them upon his return.
15 “When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done.
16 “The first said, ‘Master, I doubled your money.’
17 “He said, ‘Good servant! Great work! Because you’ve been trustworthy in this small job, I’m making you governor of ten towns.’
18 “The second said, ‘Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.’
19 “He said, ‘I’m putting you in charge of five towns.’
They were faithful in the mundane (small job) and were found faithful and rewarded for that faithfulness. Why? Because service is not so much about making the supreme sacrifice as it is about making a personal investment in someone or something else.
Gordon B. Hinkley said “Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others…. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.” (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/service?page=1).
Stop looking and longing for the service show-stoppers and the roof-raisers and concentrate on the everyday, little areas where you can lift the lives of the few by your personal investment in their lives, while honoring the Lord with yours…even if it means clipping toe-nails.
Dennis L.R. Strissel