A Story Worth Telling

This Sunday, I’m preaching a sermon on worship as a way of life, a LIFE-ORIENTATION as one author puts it (based on Romans 12:1-2).  What do our lives revolve around? Where do our loyalties lie? Toward what or whom are we turned?  The answers to these questions reveal what or whom we worship.

I’m using the following story as an illustration of a life that is devoted to God, a life of true worship. It took my breath away.

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A Botswanan woman, married with children, watched, in what must have been an agonizing mix of sorrow and anger, as her husband strayed from her. She wasn’t sure what exactly he did on all of those nights away from home. He never told her. Eventually he left for good.

Time passed. Her life as a mother and provider continued. Then she received news. Her husband was sick with AIDS and dying. He had found his way back to his parents home in a neighboring village, but when they learned what his illness was and how he had been infected, they refused to care for him. As committed Christians, they were ashamed of their son’s behavior and his disease. They would not help him. He was paying the price for his sin.

Also a committed follower of Jesus, this man’s wife made a different decision. She recalled their marriage vows. Her husband had betrayed those promises… he had cheated on her and probably also infected her with HIV.  She had every right to walk away and leave him to his miserable death. Every right. No one would blame her. But she had also made vows to him and before her God. Instead of turning away from her husband and abandoning him to the bitter agony he had earned by his own selfishness, she laid down her rights. In an extraordinary demonstration of grace, she took him back home. She cared for him– bathed him, fed him, held his hand as he died… she loved him.

This was true love of God and love of her nearest neighbor, though he had acted more like her enemy.

“Therefore, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God– this is true worship.” Romans 12:1

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**This story, in a different form, can be found in the August 5th, 2008, issue of The Mennonite, a publication of the denomination Mennonite Church USA.**

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