God's Anonymous Workers
by Janice Price
We are familiar with evangelists, leaders of large ministries or congregations, famous writers and speakers who are doing religious work in the public eye. They often receive public praise and are occasionally idolized by faithful followers, some of whom give great sums of money to help support that particular work. Their successes are reported in national newspapers, magazines, on radio, and on the daily news and talk shows. They receive cards, letters, telephone calls, visits, invitations and even personal gifts in recognition of their service.
We also recognize the local workers who do the accounting, typing, scheduling, cleaning, and the myriad of less prominent but no less important works that keep the congregations running smoothly and the public leadership at the right place at the right time. Some of these people are multi-talented and can juggle many balls at the same time. We might envy their productivity and resourcefulness.
Then there are the folks such as my mother. She’s elderly, forgetful, has very limited mobility, can’t read the Bible because she can barely see, can’t hear well enough to listen to sermons on tapes or follow most conversations, and she has been housebound for several years, so she’s become pretty much cut off from society and Christian fellowship.
How does someone like my mother fit into “show me your faith by your works?”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Mother and James 2: 26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Mother isn’t dead, physically, and she isn’t spiritually dead either. God hasn’t thrown her away because she’s become slow-moving, disabled and reclusive with age. Unless we can view her through God’s eyes, we can’t imagine how she could be useful to anyone, especially to God’s work.
She can’t write letters or make calls of encouragement to those who are in the spotlight because of her physical limitations. She can’t visit the lonely or give physical aid to anyone in need. She might help further God’s work by contributing financially to a church or ministry, if she has the funds and God leads her to do this. But what if she can’t give financially either? Is she beyond hope?
Most definitely she is not! The most important work her faith can lead her to do at this stage of her life is to pray – honestly, fervently and “without ceasing.”
This would make Mother one of God’s anonymous workers, unrecognized by the world and unheralded in public. She isn’t known to any but her immediate family and a few others. She has never written a book or preached a sermon. She has always avoided the spotlight, content to stay in the background and support others.
God uses many anonymous workers. It‘s probably refreshing to use people who are content to serve without publicity or a public pat on the back.
When God looks down on a religious leader with a successful ministry, he sees the whole picture including the army of workers behind the scenes, not a solitary person succeeding on his own. Mother and all of those unknown and unseen prayer workers are not really anonymous, after all. God knows each one, each worker, by name.
© 2005 Janice Price