by Sheila Campbell
One winter we received several inches of snow just after Christmas. The first days of the snow were joyous; the hazy winter sky and the snow-covered yard were beautiful, and being snowed in gave us some much-needed family time. It had been a very hectic and busy fall season, and I felt we needed some leisure time, so we canceled school for the week.
It was on one of those leisurely vacation days that the Lord reminded me of a valuable truth about faithfulness, strength, and joy. I was in the middle of feeding my oldest son, Justin. Due to a brain injury at the age of 5, Justin was severely handicapped, and although the break from therapists and caregivers had been a welcome reprieve from our usual schedule, several days without their assistance was beginning to wear on me. Justin was 15 at the time and weighed more than 120 lbs; transferring him from one place to another was no longer an easy task.
In the middle of his meal, he needed to get out of his wheelchair for a few minutes. “Oh, Justin, not now,” I groaned. For a moment I was angry with him, although he was not at fault. “Now it will take me twenty minutes longer to finish lunch,” I thought, as I pushed the wheelchair toward the bedroom, “plus two more transfers on my back,” I selfishly added.
Suddenly the Scripture “be not weary in well doing” came to my mind. The thought sharply admonished my soul. “Oh, Father,” I prayed, “forgive me of my selfishness.” The time was unimportant; I simply wanted a nap. I realized I was seeking my own solution to my weariness—both mental and physical, but I had forgotten the true source of strength, and that forgetfulness was robbing me of the joy of caring for my son.
I was reminded of the words of Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31), and I remembered a sermon I had heard about this particular verse. The minister had encouraged his listeners to reconsider the definition of the words wait upon in this verse. Rather than “act with patience,” we should consider it to mean “to serve.” I thought about how my service to my children was my ministry to God and how blessed I was to be able to serve them. Ministry is not service to God when we serve begrudgingly or out of obligation, because then it becomes a duty rather than ministry. Ministry should be a service from the heart. When we serve out of a love that overflows from the heart, that service produces such exceedingly great joy that when we say to our children “it is my pleasure to do this for you,” it truly is.
Today I no longer have the joy of caring for my son. Justin went home to be with the Lord on March 3, 2004, at the age of 17, but the lesson I learned that day was forever etched into my memory. Over the years, when I have felt I deserved a break from the time and energy I was investing into homeschooling my children and running my household, the Lord has often brought it to mind. Yes, physical rest is important, but when we seek to renew our spirits in our own strength, we will repeatedly find ourselves lacking. It is a comfort to remember the words of Psalm 84:5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee . . . .”
Sheila Campbell began homeschooling in 1991, and after the death of her husband in 2001, she homeschooled as a single parent. She also was the parent of a special needs child whom she cared for at home until his death in 2004. These difficulties have strengthened her walk with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it is her prayer that her words will encourage and inspire others. Sheila invites you to visit her blog at pausingtopraise.wordpress.com.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free TOSapps to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android devices.