There was much racing and shouting followed by the inevitable, "Last one there is a rotten egg!" I have no idea what game they were playing, but it was loud.
Miss Kate was soon calling the shots, and the taunt quickly took an unexpected turn. Upon realizing that she would be the "last one there," she blurted out, "Last one there is . . . perfect!"
And that sealed the fate of her siblings. She was the perfect one.
I laughed and scribbled yet another Avery quote in my journal.
The more I think about it, though, the more I realize how right she actually is.
The concept is certainly not new. If you've flipped through the New Testament lately, you'll see that it's a rather prominent topic. Prominent and, at times, hard to swallow.
The last shall be first.
The greatest among you shall be your servant.
Humble yourself as a child.
The greatest example of this is Jesus Christ. He proved that the last One, the true Servant, is the perfect One. The One who served until death. The One who even begged His Father for a way out . . . but only if it was the best way.
Turns out it wasn't the best way. The best way was straight through hell. So he went.
He sacrificed all. Putting the greatest need of humanity before his own rights, He became last. And in so doing, He was raised victorious. He conquered all. And remained perfect.
Perfectly obedient, perfectly good, perfectly wise, perfectly God.
We, His creatures, frequently don't know what to do with this. We don't like to be last. It's not in our nature to serve. (Or if we do serve, it's hard to do so with the purest humility.) This service system is counter-intuitive and, frankly, a bit too risky. We might lose something. Or not be noticed. Heaven forbid.
As I find my children growing older and more capable, I realize that the opportunities for service in my home are changing. I have to consciously remind myself to continue to cultivate the heart of a servant. They don't need my help in the bathroom anymore. (Glory be.) They don't need help getting ready for bed or getting dressed.
So I no longer serve by the daily dressing and bathing of my children. Tasks which, at one time, I thought would never end.
Lately, I've even been able to walk away from the school room to attend to other responsibilities, knowing that (at least for a time) they will stay focused on their work. It is quite likely that I could sit with a cup of tea and read all day long and they would be just fine. (Messy, but fine.) These people are gaining independence, and they like it.
I like it, too. But it puts me in a new position of awareness. Because it is crucial that they still learn how to serve. How to be last.
I have a chicken roasting in the oven. As soon as my children became aware of the menu, certain members immediately started arguing over the drumsticks. Hot commodities, those puppies. Yes, they still need to learn. Deny yourself.
This means that now, more than ever, I need to model service. These children still need to see their mama in action. They need to see that the only way through this game is by choosing to be last. By thinking of others. By serving, serving, serving.
It's so unnatural. But it's not impossible. We have a perfect example. And He loves us. He desires us.
Which means that now, more than ever, I need to be spending my time with Him. In Him. Abiding. I need to listen to the rhythm of His heart which beats with passionate love for His children. I need to bathe my thoughts in His Word and really learn the rules of this game.
Not because I want to win, but because He already has. I want to live in His victory.
It's true that I'm still a bit of a rotten egg -- at least for now. I kind of stink at this whole serving thing. But I'm continuing to train under the best. And I do believe there's hope for me yet.