A Trophy Or Atrophy

November 9, 2011
by Anton Stander

1 Samuel 21:8a,9a – David said to Ahimelech, Do you have at hand a sword or spear? The priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you slew in the Valley of Elah, see, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, do so. (AMP)

I have always fancied antique cars. But once I had handed off to my son my beloved 1940 McLaughlin Buick and sold the 1960 Dodge Phoenix, I began to collect model cars. Those became too expensive, so I settled for toy cars, and finally, for mugs with pictures of cars on them.

Then as the number of mugs in use in our house dwindled down, we began to use the mugs on my display shelves. Finally it was the turn of my precious Bugatti mug to be pressed into service. My best friend gave it to me. I could never have afforded the gas to drive a Bugatti, let alone the price to buy a real one. My heart broke as I took the mug down from the top shelf and poured coffee into it. I gave strict orders that I was to be the sole user of that mug. It was a trifle larger than the others and gave my large hand enough space around the handle that my pinky no longer had to mimic that of an English lady having "a drop of tea".

This morning as I read of David going to Ahimelech the priest, I looked at my mug standing still half-full beside me, and for the first time, I was happy to see it in use. And the thought came to me about how many human trophies are hiding themselves on the shelf behind an ephod of excuses why they do not engage in service for the Master. Why is it that so many choirs need members, and so many church activities are suffering atrophy — wasting away and declining? Sir Bedevere would not throw King Arthur's sword back into the lake because he wanted it to "shine in use". It is depressing when one sees the institutions of the church declining because of lack of interest by erstwhile members who no longer want to "shine in use". We have to ask ourselves if we have made a trophy of ourselves or submitted ourselves to atrophy. The fields are "white unto harvest", the hungry need to be fed, the patients visited, the blind read to, and the lonely invited to our homes. Missionaries and our people serving abroad would welcome a letter from home. But there are still many swords rusting, all comfortable, behind the ephod. Morning services should not dwindle and waste away as did too many evening services.

Let's answer an enthusiastic "Yes" when the Lord calls us, for He has work for us to do. When that phone rings for a volunteer, push away the ephod of lame duck excuses and go and sell hot dogs for the cause. Get into the car, drive to the shelter, and walk a few dogs. Get rid of the atrophy! Shine up your sword — as well as the rest of the entire armour of God.

Anna L. Coghill, in her hymn, Work for the Night is Coming, wrote:

    Fill brightest hours with labour,
    Rest comes sure and soon.
    Give every flying minute,
    Something to keep in store.

Prayer: God of might and power, help us to throw off the mantle of atrophy and bring us back into the services that we have either neglected or deserted. Return to us the joy of the morning watch. Revive in us the vigour that we once knew for Your kingdom, and rekindle in us the enthusiasm for the vision that we used to have. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Anton Stander
(deceased)

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