Many heart warming stories came out of WORLD WAR TWO. While Germany had officially surrendered, the tremendous hurt and devastation was shocking. Orphans were collected like urchins of the street. No living relatives and no place to call home. America has always been gracious in victory and special care was given to the pitiful plight of the children.
Food, clothing, and shelter were provided. Those used to begging or eating out of garbage dumps were now well fed. The gaunt eyes, the swollen bellies were common. The nights were the hardest to bear, for while the bombs no longer fell, and the horror of war was no longer felt, the children constantly were plagued with nightmares. It was not just a few, but all seemed to cry out at night, toss and tumble in their beds and nothing seems to quell the nightly horror of the mind.
The best of American minds had no answer. It was sad at day but horrors at night. One of the women helping the nurses came up with an idea. It was unusual but any new approach would be welcome.
At bedtime, the workers distributed a slice of bread to each of the children with instructions that they were not to eat it now, just keep it for tomorrow. The strangest most wonderful effect was experienced that night in the large dormitory. The room housing more than two hundred children was quiet. Peace had come to the hearts of the kids for each one held the slice of bread close to their hearts. They had eaten today and the bread simply said, “I will have food for tomorrow”. Peace had come to the hearts of the orphan children.
The next day a large hand drawn banner was hung over the double door to the room. It read, “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT!”
Jesus had said, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12). In German life, most families would go to the baker and buy a fresh baked loaf for daily use. Bread for today and bread for tomorrow. Is that what the psalmist meant when he wrote, “I shall not want?”
Several years ago, one of England’s leading actors was asked to recite a reading for the pleasure of his guests. He consented and asked is there anything special that the audience would like to hear. After a few moments pause, an aged minister arose and said, “Sir, could you recite the twenty-third Psalm?”
A strange look passed over the great actor’s face. He paused for a moment and then said, “I can and I will, upon one condition, that after I have finished, you my friend will do the same.”
It was agreed. With great pomp and expression the actor began the Psalm. His voice and his intonation were perfect. He held the audience spellbound and as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the guests. A standing ovation was accorded and then it died away and all were seated.
The aged minister arose and began to recite. His voice was full but not remarkable. His intonation was not flawless. Small tears began to move down his cheeks and as he finished, no sound of applause broke the silence. There was not a dry eye in the room and hearts were bowed in reverential awe.
The great actor arose to his feet again. His voice shook with uncontrolled emotions as he laid his hand on the shoulder of the old minister and said to the audience. “I have reached your ears my friends, but this man has reached your heart. The difference is simple. I know the psalm, but he knows the shepherd.”
What a great difference there is in ‘head knowledge’ and ‘heart knowledge’. We have been busy in the doing of things without stopping to examine our own motivation. We are like cats all drowning in a bowl full of cream. We have never had it so good and yet, ironically we have never seemed to be so poor. Everyone is so busy and yet no one seems to die having finished their work.
One woman, late for the morning service, met a sister coming out of the church building. She said, “Is the sermon done?” The lady answered, “The sermon is over, it remains to be done.”
I was taught that there are five keys to worship. Singing, praying, giving, hearing someone speak, and observing the Lord ‘s Supper. As I grew and matured I found that this information is totally incorrect. Singing hymns is not worship. Public praying is not worship. Giving is not worship. Listening to a sermon is not worship, and breaking bread and drinking grape juice is not worship!
Doing religious forms is not worship at all, for they are but containers into which our hearts are to flow. Put your heart in singing – now that’s worship. Put your heart in praying – now that’s worship. Be generous like God is. This is worship when the heart overflows with love. The Lord ‘s Supper of bread and juice are but containers that express our memory and love.
Love makes the motive, not the fire (I Corinthians 13:1-3).