A Living Example

In Sunday School I had always learned that Jesus came to earth so that we could relate to him allow us to better trust Him. He came voluntarily to serve and give us an example as to how to live. Sometimes it is still hard to wrap my mind around why a manger and not a palace like Solomon’s? Why not as the warrior king that the Jews were expecting? Why a child to poor refugee parents? How can we really take Him seriously when we know He could call down angels at anytime, manipulate nature or know any and every fact?

When we had first moved to Jamaica, I was put in charge of digging a foundation at a rural church in Sandside that needed an addition. The new part was on a hill and resembled a walk out basement requiring us to dig down several feet in hard red clay to level a flat base. The church is set back from a small creek in a low valley where no air flows so it was hot, humid and sticky from the clay and lack of breeze. Six Jamaican men were hired in the community to help dig; men who were unskilled and usually uneducated relegating themselves to this kind of hard manual work because it was all they could find. Additionally, I was told a man was coming down from the states to volunteer his time for a while too. His name was Wes, was retired and he wanted to help out CSI (our mission – short for Christian Service International). Wes arrived late the night before we were to work and I did not really get to spend time with him before heading to the job site early the next morning. All he said was that he was a retired teacher and currently helped his sons in their business to keep busy and out of trouble. Wes was a tall man who carried himself with dignity. A Jamaican crew boss and I laid out the foundation and turned everyone loose digging and wheel barrowing the soil away. Wes jumped right in digging with a shovel and while the Jamaicans used a “fork”, their tool of choice. Soon I saw Wes talking to an older Jamaican man weathered and bent from years of hard, heavy work. He was dressed with ragged pants, a holey shirt and rubber “duck boots”. With about three teeth showing through a constant smile he went about the work with methodical, practiced precision and pride. The man was giving Wes instructions on how to dig with a fork and lay out a straight line. Wes listened in rapt attention and worked along side this gentleman doing everything that was told him to do. They were having a great time and worked well as a team while the elderly man was thrilled to have a pupil and friend.

Relaxing after dinner that evening I asked Wes to tell us about himself. He was not just a retired teacher but a college professor at a medical school. He was a PhD teaching medical students diagnostic techniques and laboratory procedures. Since his retirement he had been working with his sons in their business building higher-end executive homes. As a hobby Wes had taught himself Computer Aided Drafting programs and designed the kitchen and home floor plans for the business.

And there had been Wes, listening with rapt attention as an uneducated man showed him how to dig the proper way with a fork. Wes could have taken over the job site and directed the work with great expertise although he would have robbed a simple man of his work and purpose. In his wisdom Wes knew coming to Jamaica was not for foundations but for people. Wes was kind to that man showing him mercy and giving him dignity when he could have shouted out his credentials and humiliated him. But, no, Wes humbled himself and put himself under that man’s instruction. Wes was being kind because he emptied himself of his position to help another rise up and fulfill his. Wes chose love over power and pride. Jesus could have been born to a palace, led angelic armies or made us all subservient “for our own good.” I have to love Jesus all the more because I know at any time He could use His power and forcibly change the world, but Jesus chose love over power and pride to raise us up to fulfill our purpose and reach our potential through Him.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:9-12.

Whenever I returned to the Sandside community and ran into any of those men inevitably they asked me “how is Mr. Wes keeping?”  Wes never did tell them what he was, a college professor and house builder, but he showed them who he was and who he served, Jesus, and Wes made God’s love complete.

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This daily devotion is written by John Key

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