Stay away from the church service!
(J. R. Miller, "Serving and Following Christ" 1903)
Serving Christ is something very practical. Some people seem to think it is something aside from their common life, something that belongs only to Sundays, something that can be done only in certain holy moments. But serving Christ is really one's very life—or it is nothing. It does not consist merely in acts of worship. There are times when one's first and most sacred duty—is to stay away from the church service!
A young mother was regretting that she had been able to attend church so rarely during the six months since her baby came. But if the baby really needed a mother's care all those months, she would have been unfaithful to her Master—if she had neglected it even to attend church services.
A pleasant story tells of a dying mother, who left her young daughter in charge of her little sick sister. All her days and nights were filled with this care of love. She could not attend church services nor take any part in Christ's work outside of her little home. It grieved her, for she loved Christ and longed to be of use in His service.
One night she dreamed that the Master had come, and she stood before Him, painfully explaining why she had not been able to do any work for Him, because all her time and strength were required in caring for her suffering sister. "That child is Mine!" said the Master. She could not have served Him better—than in tending this little one of His that needed her care and was her special charge. If she had failed in this duty, even in order to attend church services, if she had neglected this sick child in order to help others outside her home—the Master would have been grieved!
Our duty in serving Christ lies always near to our hand. It is never some impossible thing that He wants us to do.
There was an artist who wished to leave behind him some noble work that would live through all time. He sought for material fine enough for his dream. He traveled to distant lands and journeyed far and near in vain quest for what he sought. He came home an aged man, weary and disappointed, and found that from the common clay beside his own door—his old apprentice had made marvels of loveliness which were praised by all who saw them, and had won him fame.
Just so, many people longing to do noble things for Christ, look far off for the opportunities, missing meanwhile services which wait for them close by their doors. Nothing is grander for us any day, than . . .
the quiet doing of God's will,
simple faithfulness in common duty,
making the best of what lies close to our hand!