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PatienceBest Paper
By Darlene Hight

Have you ever wondered whether or not the things that you do really matter? I often have. I wonder, in fact, whether or not anyone reads the words that I write or whether they have an impact. Sunday school teachers question whether their lessons are falling on fertile ground or whether the seeds wash off as quickly as they are planted? What of missionaries who spend countless years serving faithfully but never see tangible evidence of their labor?

This morning, I read a story and it touched my heart tremendously. It was the story of a man who had been mutilated in an accident. He was missing his left arm, both legs and some of the fingers on his right hand.

Rather than waste away in his own grief, he chose to write letters to prisoners. In the letters, he poured out his heart to them. He wrote of his love for God and his faith – even though he never knew if his letters were being read at all, as the prisoners weren’t allowed to respond.

One day, he received a reply from a prison official. The letter stated simply "When you write, please use the best paper available as the letters are passed from cell to cell until they are literally falling apart. "Please write on the best paper you can afford."

This story brought to mind Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23–24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (NIV)

One of the most difficult things to do in life is to keep working at something just because it is right and good, without receiving recognition or praise. Housework falls into this category for me. It is an endless responsibility that most times goes completely unnoticed. In fact, many things fall into the category of thankless jobs. Setting up chairs for Sunday service or printing church bulletins usually go without notice. However each week when I read my bulletin and sit in my chair, I know the value of those services. When I reach into the cabinet and pull out a clean glass, I know the value of housework.

Like the man who wrote letters to prisoners never knowing if they were being read, quite possibly many things that you do every week are impacting people in ways that you will never know. Maybe, you have been tempted to give up because it doesn’t seem to be worthwhile. If you have, then perhaps this thought will spur you on. Did the scribes who meticulously recorded the scriptures have any awareness of the magnitude of their service for the Lord?

Whatever you do, no matter how seemingly insignificant, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men and please, write on the best paper you can afford.
Darlene Hight lives in Southern Ohio with her husband, Mark. This article first appeared in her column ‘Drawing from the Well’ a monthly devotional that she writes for Crossway Community Church. You may contact Darlene care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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