Mark 10:43-45 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Dear Readers, Blessings, peace, love and joy unto you, my brothers and sisters. Not many people enjoy hard labor or what they consider menial work. I used to be one of those people. Sure, I always worked hard, like I was taught by my earthly father; but I seldom enjoyed it. I always worked my way up to management. The work was still hard, but mostly mentally so, unless someone called in sick or the business was booming. At that point, I would have to jump in and get my hands dirty. I always liked working, but I never stopped to really appreciate my labor.
As you know, I am in solitary confinement. Today is my 82nd day. When you exhibit good behavior, you can volunteer to work. Of course, there is no pay involved at all. If you have a release date someday, you can earn one day per month off your sentence. I have three life sentences, so without winning my appeal, I will more than likely die in prison. Thus, good time is meaningless to me. Still, a week ago, I volunteered to come out and clean. Only three of us, out of fifty men, ever volunteer. Everyone else is either not allowed due to their behavior or they feel that cleaning showers and floors is beneath them. A wonderful thing happened while I was cleaning. I found joy, meaning and purpose in it. Praise God! It felt so good that I asked the guards if I could scrub the floors with a brush before I mopped. The floors were a mess. Often times, the men throw food, condiments, paper and even urine out of their doors. They do so out of anger and frustration. There was ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise splattered all over the floor. It looked awful. There was paper and trash littered about like the remnants of a tornado. I cleaned the entire pod. It was a challenge. I started with the trash, then I swept. Finally, I scrubbed and mopped the floors. I enjoyed every second of it. It felt awesome!
You see, I came to realize how important what I was doing was. It is important that the pod be clean. Otherwise, people could slip and get hurt. Germs could run rampant and make people sick and the whole unit would smell awful. When I started cleaning, the task looked monumental – especially for one man; but I persevered. I started something hard and I finished it. More important, there was a purpose to what I had done. I was of service. What’s more, I did it without receiving any financial gain. The guards were so pleased with my work, they offered me a coffee (which, in here, is a very rare treat indeed). I declined. I did so because I did not want the joy I felt to be tainted. My satisfaction at the end was payment enough. I do enjoy coffee, but it was important to me that I worked for free.
When I surveyed what I had done, I was overwhelmingly pleased. I felt a great sense of accomplishment. The floors which were once filthy, were now gleaming. I was soaked with sweat. My brow was dripping and it felt sweet. What I accomplished was very rewarding and fulfilling. Some of the inmates scoffed at me. They thought I was stupid for not accepting the coffee. Many of them won’t do anything unless it benefits them. They just don’t understand. Try as I might, I could not get them to grasp the concept that what I did had meaning. It had purpose. It mattered. For, I was of service to my fellow human beings. I wish the whole world could see the beauty of that. The next morning at 6 a.m., the guards came to my cell and asked if I would like to clean the showers and I was happy to oblige. I could not wait to do more meaningful labor.
I pray that all of you find joy and meaning in your daily tasks. I pray that you realize the importance of selfless service. After all, no service or labor is truly selfless if we find meaning, purpose and joy in it. You see, even while scrubbing floors and showers, I was serving the Lord by servicing others. That, my friends, is more valuable than any wage you can earn. Financially, I gained nothing. Mentally and spiritually, however, what I gained was priceless. I volunteer every day. I can’t wait to do it again. Everything we do has purpose and meaning. Search and ye shall find it.
May God bless and keep you! May you find meaning in all that you do! May your labor and service be ever joyful! Amen!
Love in Christ,
(a man who finds meaning and joy in labor)