My Dear Shepherds,
When he cometh, when he cometh
To make up his jewels,
All his jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and his own.
Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They will shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for his crown.
That old hymn came to my mind a couple of years ago when I was driving home after church one Sunday. Usually I’d be dissecting my sermon, trying to remember names of visitors I’d met and recalling the requests I’d promised to pray for. But that day I started thinking of the jewels.
Every Sunday, mostly before and after the service as I moved from one person to another, I handled precious things. But they seemed so common, so ordinary, that I usually forgot them by the time I got home. A brother had told me about a bona fide miracle he’d experienced and I forgot it by the time I was eating lunch. A child had hugged me. A woman told me what God had been teaching her. God was teaching her! I began spending my drive home trying to recapture those moments. One morning late in 2019 these were the jewels.
Abraham, age 10, looked up at me, bright-eyed, to say that he had decided to memorize the kings of Israel. When I asked why he said, “Well, I’ve pretty much learned the books of the Bible, so this seemed like a good idea.”
Janet, small and stroke-smitten, held out her Bible to show me the verse she’d underlined, Deuteronomy 31:6, giggling as she so often does. She started to read, one painstaking word at a time, “Be … strong … and … cour … cour …” I helped her with “courageous.” But she understands courage better than I do.
“Art” waited in a chair by the window as usual. There were tears in his eyes. He still grieved his beloved, gone three and a half years. “I just miss her so much.” We embraced and I prayed for him.
“Darrell,” whom I hadn’t seen in a long, long time, waited for me while I talked with others. I hardly recognized him for the bushy beard. He had come through a terrible head injury which, in the way God works, finally helped him think more clearly about God.
Josh and Jasmine brought Rhonda Lynn to church for the first time, born just that week. Later I saw a picture of her in her carrier on a pew, two white-haired adopted grandmas and a balding grandpa all grinning down at that precious little jewel. It might have been the most beautiful thing I saw all morning!
Sometimes people dream of walking on streets of gold, but we walk among the Lord’s jewels every week. Yet when we talk about our church to others we almost never even think of these things. Perhaps it is because they are so small. They seem unremarkable. But these are the treasures of ministry.
Now I’m retired. My wife and I have a new job at our church. We’re the greeters at the north door—the front door, mind you! I love it. What I love best is when the three buses bringing the handicapped and elderly come to our door. The wheel-chair bound, the bent and blind, are so beautiful in their desire to be there with Jesus and the rest of us. Eric, Matthew, and Byron, who help them, move me as much as the worship team who lead us in singing.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (Ps. 84:10)
Be ye glad!