Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
That's your model. Now get to it! Yeah! Work, work, press on!
I'm a terribly ambitious person. Whatever I undertake, I want to be the best at it. B was always an unacceptable grade. If I wasn't the kid picked to show all the other kids how something was done, I was disappointed. If there was an award to be had, I wanted to win it. So naturally, that applies to my Christian life, and as a missionary, I tend to take the cues from Paul, from Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, from all the stories of saints and missionaries who worked themselves well-nigh to death. That's what I need to be. Now work harder! Get more done! I don't like sleep anyway. While, of course, also trying to be the Proverbs 31 woman at home.
And then the still, small voice comes:
Loving my Lord drives me to serving with all my might. And yet then trying to serve with all my might drives me to one crisis after another until I remember to stop and sit at His feet and, well, love Him. That I suppose, is what this whole blog "Drinking in Life, pouring out service" is all about, learning to do that. I know that still, humble love and fervent deeds are supposed to fuel one another, but so often I alternate between them like spinning a boat because I focus on one oar and then another rather than turn both at the same time.
I used to keep these verses in my purse to read frequently and memorize. I think I should start it up again:
I am the true vine, an My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean [pruned] because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vie, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.