Just days after having tea with the royal family in Buckingham Palace in June of 1961, Ruth Graham was in Belfast, Ireland, for her husband Billy’s evangelistic crusade at Saint Andrew’s Hall. While there Ruth visited a former missionary to China whom she remembered from her own childhood on the mission field. The woman lived in a small apartment in a nearby rest home.
A quilt made of Chinese silk scraps covered her bed. Favorite well-worn volumes lined her bookshelves, and yellowed photographs of her family were neatly pasted on the walls. The packing crates that had carried her belongings back from China now served as furniture. On her desk – a card table – were carefully stacked boxes which would soon be shipped to missionaries in Africa to distribute to needy children. She was packing the boxes with empty plastic bottles, note pads made from greeting cards and paper, cans and trinkets.
“You certainly manage to keep busy and get a lot done!’ Ruth remarked.
The old missionary straightened proudly, looked Ruth directly in the eye and declared, “I don’t belong to meself.”
That night Ruth wrote in her diary: “I couldn’t help remembering another room just five days before. It also had family pictures all around the wall, books, and a desk. And boxes piled on boxes. Red dispatch boxes. They were a world apart. But for all the royal elegance of one and simple poverty of the other, there was a similarity. And I couldn’t help but feel I had had tea with royalty twice in one week.”
The retired missionary’s statement, “I don’t belong to meself,” reminds me (Vance) of truths from the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Corinthians: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20); “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
We Christians do not belong to ourselves and we are not to live for ourselves. Rather, we belong to Christ who gave His very life to redeem us from our sin and the eternal judgment it deserves. It’s our great privilege and honor to expend our lives in loving obedience and service to Him.
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My book Timeless Stories: God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians contains a whole chapter of instructive true stories (including this one) on various aspects of Christian service. I think you’ll find encouragement and guidance in your own service for the Lord if you’re able to read it.
Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie