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Pairs Tom Barnard H ave you ever thought about the number of things we use everyday that come in pairs? Probably not. But the fact is that many things we just take for granted come in pairs. First, there are the single items we refer to as pairs: a pair of trousers; a pair of jeans; a pair of glasses; a pair of binoculars; a pair of scissors; a pair of pliers; a pair of tweezers. Then there are the like things that come in pairs: a pair of shoes; a pair of socks; a pair of gloves; a pair of earrings; a pair of chopsticks; a pair of crutches. One without the other is incomplete. Then, of course there are the separate or unlike things that we say come in pairs: cup and saucer; peanut butter and jelly; bacon and eggs; bread and butter; salt and pepper; pen and ink. If you like lyrics, you will remember the first line of “My Favorite Things” sung by Maria von Trapp in Sound of Music: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” In addition to the like things listed above that naturally belong in pairs I want to single out another “pair” of things—boat oars. They are normally sold in pairs. Who in the world would buy a boat and then go out in search of one oar? No one I know. Okay, you say—how about a one-armed sailor? You‟ve got me there. But that‟s a topic for another day. Oars are normally sold in pairs. And they are always meant to be used together—in pairs. No boatman would think of entering the water with his boat and one oar. No sailor goes shopping for a single oar, unless he has lost one of his pair. Try to row a boat with one oar, and you will end up going in a circle. The harder you row, the tighter the circle. The only thing worse than having a single oar on board in open water is having no oars at all. That‟s called being “dead in the water.” But put a pair of oars in the water, and if equal effort is made on each oar, the boat moves forward in a straight line. In the spiritual life, there are things that belong together, like perfectly-matched oars. Two of the more important ones are surrender and service. They go together. Surrender without service is hollow piety. Service without surrender is sterile duty. Try activating one without the other, and the spiritual cruise will result in circle making. No significant gain will result from such foolish exercise. All true Christian service begins with personal surrender to God. Call it what you want—consecration, yielding, commitment—it is a prerequisite to authentic service. One cannot know Christ personally and deeply without catching the winsome contagion of His caring spirit for others. Yielding to His Spirit calls for the response of one‟s heart in meaningful service to others. As someone said, “Wherever the Spirit of the Lord controls the heart, there is a passion to serve.” When Jesus wanted to demonstrate to his followers the meaning of service, he took off his robe, picked up the bowl of water used for ceremonial cleansing, and then he proceeded to wash his disciples‟ feet, drying them with the towel he had wrapped around his waist. It was a personal, loving act. Then he said to the men, “You call me „Teacher‟ and „Lord,‟ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other‟s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15 NLT) The reason Jesus was so comfortable stepping up to wash the dirty feet of his disciples (rather than wait for a hired servant or someone else to do it) was because Jesus was fully surrendered to the will of His Father. Likewise, for us to be effective in our service to God, we must be surrendered to His Will in our lives. The third stanza of Edwin Orr‟s great hymn-prayer expresses this truth well: Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride. I now surrender, Lord, in me abide. You are reading Tuesday Mornings for November 15, 2005. For a free subscription, write to Dr. Tom Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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