You can find eternal truths in the strangest places. I have a set of science fantasy books called The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson. Part of the story is a similar scenario to Lord of the Rings, where a motley crew find themselves on a quest to save the land from Lord Foul. They do not consider themselves to be heroes or particularly gifted, and feel inadequate for the task ahead. Then Thomas remembers what Foamfollower the Giant once said to him: “Service enables service. Hope comes from the power and value of what is served, not from the one who serves it.”*
This struck me very forcibly when I read it. I wrote it on a card and stuck it on my dressing table mirror. It reminds me every time I see it not to try to serve God in my own strength.
When my daughter started her new job, she found the first few days very hard. There was so much to learn and the boss had very exacting standards. A lot was expected of her, and she wanted to make a good impression. The only resources she had were her existing knowledge and skills, a willingness to learn, and the ability to pick things up quickly. The boss was not prepared to make allowances – she had been employed on the understanding that she would be able to do the job.
Compare that with our situation when we become Christians and submit to serving God. We know he has great expectations of us:
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.” (1 Cor.12:27)
But if “service enables service”, what resources can a boss give to empower those who serve him? He can be patient, helpful, considerate. But if the employee cannot do the work, there is nothing he can do. With God it is very different.
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph.2:10)
“In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom.8:37)
“We will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, jointed and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph.4:15,16)
Do not attempt to serve God in your own strength. He will give you the strength you need, and enable you to grow in the process. When God calls you to do something – something special or just to live your daily life as a Christian, He provides the way. With God, service enables service.
* The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Volume 3: White Gold Wielder, page 85. pub. Fontana/Collins 1983.