The Fruits of Servanthood 3 (Awareness Awakened)
Servanthood brings an increased awareness of many types. The awareness of the situations others face and their subsequent needs is one. The awareness of our own nature, complete with its weaknesses and sins is another. It has been pointed out that awareness in Western culture is highly individualistic whereas in Eastern culture, it is more of a group awareness. Western culture has spawned the “me” generation concept. When it is all about me, selfishness in its many forms chokes out servanthood. Even our choice of “causes” to get involved in often carries a self-focus with it, for our choices may be based mainly on what makes us feel good about ourselves. Thus, involvement in causes doesn’t necessarily equate with being servants. This is why being self-aware spiritually is absolutely essential.
True servants are increasingly aware of their own shortcomings and sins. While in the hospital, becoming more and more aware of God’s supreme nature being that of servanthood, I was also becoming more and more aware of my lack of a servant spirit. During one of my sleepless nights, I had a thought jump into my mind seemingly out of nowhere. It involved me and my wife and my electronic preferences, of phones in particular. The story has a necessary back-story to fully appreciate what I am about to describe.
I officially decided to become computerized in 1992. I was writing quite a lot even back then without a computer. I had an assistant whose tasks included typing out my hand-written material. He kept telling me that writing on a computer was fundamentally important, not just in terms of saving both of us time, but in terms of what he described as something like thinking through your fingers. He finally convinced me to give up my computer phobia and buy a computer.
At that time, I knew just enough about computers to know that there were two basic types: Macintosh and Windows. I had no idea what the differences were, and which might be best for me, so I started asking advice of my computer using friends. One thing became obvious quickly. The Apple folks were not only sold on their products but sold to the point of sounding arrogant and even cultish. Purely because of that response, I decided to go with a Windows based computer. I reasoned that I had enough pride already and didn’t need to join the Apple cult to worsen it. Seriously, that was the true back-story behind my initial choice.
The problem I didn’t see coming or see once it came was that in my resistance to all things Apple, I had developed the same problem in reverse. I became a Windows snob, often deriding Apple products. Then came smartphones, with Apple being the leading innovator in this new field. I became very thankful very quickly when Android phones made their appearance. I didn’t have to use an iPhone! Yea! I had a choice and I made it. Since that first Android phone, I have owned many, and I was always quick to tell my iPhone friends that Android was the superior system.
Now we come to the real issue that God brought to my attention while in a hospital bed contemplating death and him and all points in-between. My wife is not technology oriented and initially showed no interest in smartphones, Apple or Android. Phones were used to make phone calls. End of story—until the grandchildren had smartphones and wanted to exchange texts with their grandmother. Knowing that the grandchildren had iPhones and that they were supposedly more user friendly, I bought my wife one of those dreaded iPhones. That initial purchase was nearly a decade ago.
Since that time, I have been impatient and unhelpful with Theresa in the use of her phone. I didn’t want to figure out anything about it, meaning that I wasn’t willing to serve her by learning how it functioned. Adding insult to injury, I often spoke disparagingly of her phone when she was having some problem with it. I. Was. Not. A. Servant! Not only did I fail to serve, but I was impatient and critical when she needed help with her phone. And this attitude and treatment was aimed at the most wonderful wife in the world, the one whom I love and cherish! What a servant husband would have done is switch to an iPhone when his wife first got one in order to help her with the unavoidable learning curve involved.
This whole story flooded my mind and heart in a flash, all at once, on that fateful night in the hospital. The next day, I shared the story not only with Theresa, but with my son’s whole family. They knew my attitudes and had heard my complaints and sarcasm directed at iPhones, and they all needed to hear me repent. Then they needed to see my repentance in action. I asked Joy to order two new iPhones, the latest and greatest of them, which she did. Now my wife and I both have iPhone 13 Pro Max phones. I can and do help her with her phone. I should have done this long ago—and would have if I had been imitating the God whom I love. He didn’t just change something owned to serve us; he changed himself into a human being and died for us—unimaginable servanthood!
I remember an old song, very popular in its day, “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” The first few phrases are heart-breaking, but true. Why do we hurt the ones we love? They are about the only ones who love us enough to put up with it. Sad thought, that. I wish that my little phone story was the only such memory I have about ways I have hurt my wife, failing to be the servant that God has called me to be. I imagine that this one story is enough to get the wheels of your memory turning, and hopefully enough to help you repent also. In my case, Theresa had a hard time believing that I was serious about really repenting. It took her seeing my tears of repentance to grasp how deeply grieved I was over my sins of selfishness and pride.
My hospital insights about the nature of God led to my insights about the nature of Gordon—and to repentance. I’m just so grateful to God for revealing both types of insights to me during my time of sitting on the brink of eternity with him. I needed to be there, and his servant heart was moved to take me there. Spiritual insights are found in the package of God’s nature that we humans can never fully open, but try we must, and try with fervor, determination and consistency. Let’s do it!
Curiosity being what it is, some of you are wondering how I am faring with my new iPhone. I still prefer Android for some technical reasons, but the iPhone is fine. A bit too heavy, but fine. Just so you know, I also bought an Apple computer years ago and used it daily and exclusively for six months. It was a good computer, but not as suited to my particular uses as is a PC. But no more disparaging talking about brands of computers or phones. They are all good and simply matters of preference, just like brands of a myriad of other products. My iPhone and I are doing well in developing our relationship, as my wife and I continue to do in deepening ours (after 58 years of marriage). Repentance is sweet and an integral part of servanthood for us humans!