A little old lady who used to attend my church, Sammy, died this past week.
She was a grandmother figure, beloved by many. Her “honey how are you“s met countless acquaintances as they entered the church lobby to attend services. When she had to move away, the church threw her a farewell party, and when she returned to visit – as she always did, and always would, right up until she passed away – the church always had a get-together.
She “died easy,” as my dad put it: at a ripe old age with loved ones gathered around, without suffering, surfacing from her coma every few minutes to smile and say “I love you” to those who were with her. And now she’s with the Lord, and another wonderful example of a Christlike life well lived.
Interestingly, the same question has accompanied every single remembrance of her: “Remember Sammy’s glass of water?”
For as long as Sammy attended our church – which was a very, very long time – she would run back to the fellowship hall between Sunday School and morning worship, fill up a glass with cold water, and then run back to place it carefully on the pulpit.
Every single morning, every single Sunday morning, there was a glass of water on the pulpit. It didn’t matter what pastor it was: a new one, an old one, one she loved or hated, a visiting pastor, a lecturing missionary. It didn’t matter what Sunday it was, or how busy she was, or if she had other things to do. It didn’t matter if she was sick or well or in-between. As long as she was in God’s house, that glass of water was always there.
When people asked Sammy why she did it, she always had the same answer: “Because I can’t do much, but this is something I can do.” She knew it was a small and thankless little job. She did it anyway.
When the current pastor of the church told her that she didn’t need to worry about it, Sammy said that if it was okay with him, she’d go ahead and do it anyway. And when he told her that he might not always need it, she said, “But if you ever do, it’ll be there.”
It makes me smile to hear about that glass of water every time Sammy’s name is mentioned. It was, yes, a small task. Not always necessary. And not really important in the way that we think of importance. But for her, making sure that glass of water was available for anyone who stepped up to the pulpit was a tiny one-woman mission, a matter of great faithfulness. And she did not fail in it. Not once that I knew her. That glass of water only disappeared when she did.
I challenge you this year to find a “glass of water” task in which you too will be spectacularly faithful. It doesn’t have to be big – in fact, it should be small. It doesn’t have to be “necessary” or fundamental to the function of your church – in fact, it probably won’t be. But find some small act of service that you can do consistently. Whether or not people notice doesn’t really matter, and whether or not it changes lives or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you determine yourself to do some small act of faithfulness as a gift to the Lord, and that it serves as practice for a future of growing faithfulness and service.
In Luke 16:10, Jesus says
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
When I read that verse and I think of Sammy, I can’t help but smile. I don’t know what God has her doing now that she’s finally entered His kingdom, but I am certain He has a joyful work for her to do – a task that matches the faithfulness with which she diligently set up that glass of water every Sunday.
I’d like to be remembered that way, too.