Friday, January 19, 2018
Psalms 134:1 – 3 Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. May the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.
Tears glistened in the eyes of the Captain Shaw as he looked at the three men before him. Shaw was a Salvation Army medical missionary who had just arrived in India, and the Army was taking over this particular leper colony. The local authorities had brought these men to him in manacles and fetters that were binding their hands and feet, cutting their diseased flesh. Captain Shaw turned to the guard and said, “Please unfasten the chains.”
“It isn’t safe,” the guard replied, “these men are dangerous criminals as well as lepers!” “I’ll be responsible. They’re suffering enough,” Captain Shaw said. He put out his hand and took the keys, then knelt and tenderly removed the shackles and treated their bleeding ankles and wrists.
About two weeks later Captain Shaw had his first misgivings about freeing these criminals; he had to make an overnight trip and dreaded leaving his wife and child alone. His wife insisted that she wasn’t afraid with God being there. The next morning when she went to the front door, she was startled to see the three criminals lying on her steps. One explained, “We know the doctor go. We stay here all night so no harm come to you.” That’s how these dangerous men responded to an act of love.
Today’s Psalm may be short, but it’s message has deep impact on us. It is devoted to the people who stay up all night to minister to the needs of others. We have become a three-shift culture. Large proportions of our workforce sleep during the day and work during the night. From manufacturing plants to medical people, there are those who are willing to spend their days in the dark and sleep away the light. I deeply appreciate them – especially those who do it to serve others. What would we do without the people who are on call at any hour to meet our emergency needs?
Sometimes we get a little too protective of our time. I know how hard it is for me to function after nine o’clock at night. I also know the joy that comes from sacrificing sleep for the sake of the needs of others.
The last time I was in the Philippines, a family member of a dear friend died. In the tradition of the land, everyone gathers at the home of the deceased and spends the night in fellowship. No one sleeps. People come together to surround the grieving relatives with friendship and comfort. No one should spend their first few nights alone after losing someone they love. It had been a long time since I had pulled an overnighter in college. I wasn’t used to that. But the joy of serving others strengthened me, and I made it. I didn’t even need a nap the next day. It’s amazing how much joy and strength there is in getting outside of self and sacrificially serving someone else.
There will be times when God will call on you at the most inconvenient time to minister to someone in need. When He does, get out of yourself and become His servant – His minister. Lift up your hands and praise Him. The LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, will bless you.