By Allen Teal, Rolla Presbyterian Manor chaplain
“The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” — I Samuel 30:24b, NIV
Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.
—John Milton, (1608-1674), selection from “On His Blindness”
In his sonnet “On His Blindness,” John Milton struggles with blindness at the age of 42. Mr. Milton was a prolific writer and a gifted public servant. Suddenly, the loss of his sight altered his life. He questions whether God expects a high level of service from one without light. Patience responds to his questions and concludes: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Service takes many forms.
Rolling up your sleeves and getting to work is probably the most immediately rewarding type of service. Unfortunately, not everyone serves in this way. Lack of skill, training, and physical ability limits what many can do. In order to serve, they must find other ways to serve. The mottos of three organizations speak to this.
Boy Scouts of America: “Be Prepared”
A loose interpretation of this motto would be: always have what you need. Preparation is important. Service opportunities are missed when the required training and materials are missing. Look ahead, decide what type of service interests you, and prepare yourself to serve.
U.S. Marine Corps: Semper Fidelis, “Always Faithful”
Having chosen a way to serve, stay focused. Being faithful means that you will stay with the task until completion. People need to be able to count on those who serve to finish the job. Sometimes this involves being where you are expected to be when you are needed.
U.S. Coast Guard: Semper Paratus, “Ever Ready”
Always be ready to answer the call. This implies a willingness to serve. You are not only prepared to serve, but you are anxious for the opportunity. It is the feeling a dog has when its master throws a stick and gives the command to stay. Waiting to serve is rarely easy.
When you are required to wait, use that time to prepare and get ready. Hold your place faithfully until you are called. In I Samuel 30:24, David reminds us that even those who stay behind to guard the supplies will be rewarded.