Beyond our ability in serving

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012

“I worked harder than all; yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10. We remember your work produced by faith, and your labor prompted by love. 1 Thessalonians 1:3. So said the Apostle Paul concerning how he served and how other believers served even beyond their own ability. Concerning Jesus, the Bible says, “He took upon himself the form of a servant.” Phillipians 2:7.

I pen my column for this week from the bedside of my beloved 90-year-old sister, Wylline Williams, in Southeast General Hospital in Dothan, Ala. She and her husband, Ernest, are the greatest servant team Louise and I have ever known.

Her health has progressively deteriorated, but she kept walking and serving until last Sunday. At that point, she could no longer take a step or stand alone. Receiving a phone call about the situation on Monday morning, I knew the time of my vision to give myself to my family had come. Although Wylline and Ernest have two children, they live far away; one lives near Orlando, the other in Dallas.

After having the pleasure of being my darling wife’s caregiver for three years, the Lord called her home. Therefore, I was able to cancel everything and leave immediately. I am the healthy 85-year-old baby of the family. My siblings are 90, 92, 93, 95 and 100 years old.

This article is not about me, but my servant sister and her husband. As I offer care through the night, I am reminded of the times she cancelled everything to serve Louise, myself and others.

Our mother almost died giving birth to me. A year later, Wylline, six years old at the time, did not want to enroll in school. Instead, she wanted to help Mama by staying home and caring for the baby. I remember well one Sunday morning, as a young child, I was playing in the driveway. My sister came to me and served notice: “Bubba,” she said “this is the very last Sunday you will ever miss Sunday School to stay home and play.” And you know what? It was. From that day until the time of my required service in the Navy, if I ever missed a Sunday at church, I have no memory of it. What a godly influence she had on me!

From the time Louise and I fell in love, Wylline and Ernest were servants to us. They came to the University of Alabama on the first Sunday afternoon available to give to us their support and servant love.

As a young married couple, and later as parents, we knew they were available to meet our specific needs. When we were too poor to go on vacation, they would share with us their home and dining room table, their cabin at the beach and on Lake Jordan. They shared their boat, skis and whatever else they had. In a time of depression, I knew Louise and our little ones were welcome in their home during the week-long revival meetings in our church. In times of our severe health need, I knew my sister and her husband would come if it was within the realm of possibility.

Wylline and Ernest have served our five siblings just as they have served me. Being a servant to her own two children and her siblings was only the beginning. Her service continued in the church family, where she was a combination of a serving Martha and a worshipping Mary. It was the same in the neighborhood, service organizations, scouting programs and the dinner club.

I learned a little about serving from this sister, but far from enough. She will, as long as I have a memory, challenge and inspire me to give myself away to the Lord and to others in service. No one inspires me more to serve daily beyond my ability than my wife, Louise, my daughter, Joy Carol, and my sister, Wylline. To me, they are the best Christians I have known.

Wylline can be with me only a few more days, but even as she saw to it that I did not miss Sunday School as a little child, her example will see to it that I stop missing opportunities to serve and give myself away.

Jesus said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give myself away.” He also said, “The greatest among you will be the one who serves.” What a great sister, and so much like our Lord!

–Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.