Do you remember this saying? From those to whom much is given, much will be required. At school we repeated it many times at assembly. It wasn’t set to music or emblazoned across the back wall in glittering letters: we just spoke the words. They were part of a prayer. And they became embedded in our hearts.
Eventually we left our years of formal education behind, but those words that Jesus said remained as a guiding light. Occasionally we’d quote them to someone and find a common memory. Why did they cling to us like that? They were almost as indelible as our school motto. I’m sure other students have similar experiences.
At a recent school reunion, I met friends I hadn’t seen for sixty years and these powerful words were quoted. We’d passed through lots of circumstances, dramatic and more gentle, since the days when we sat in the classroom or hurried along the cloisters together. Now we were catching up on a lot of lives! I knew that a couple of my old companions had spent ‘holidays’ volunteering in East Timor’s health clinics, giving back from their own store of blessings. Others had been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for exceptional contributions in service to youth and education, or in community and mental health fields. One was honoured for her research into the eradication of poliomyelitis. Some had worked compassionately with children who were recovering from family violence and other trauma. That day, it wasn’t long before I found another one who’d made a lasting contribution in her world. Here’s her story.
She was among the 60,000 people in Australia, who, each year, experience a stroke. In spite of her own struggles for recovery, my friend Wendy found the vision and energy to write a book for other stroke survivors. She also organised an annual exhibition of their art. Still more, she went on to found the Stroke A Chord Choir: a voice for aphasia.
Although she can still speak after her stroke, there are others who cannot. The side of their brain that controls speech is affected. This is called aphasia. Amazingly, the other side of the brain continues to orchestrate their ability to sing. Doctors knew of this paradox in the effects of stroke, but no-one had ever thought to take it further until Wendy contacted a music therapist about helping these people with communication. How they love to sing! And how wonderful it is for their families to hear them!
In her book, ‘Left of Tomorrow’ – a journey of stroke recovery, Wendy Lyons provides information for her readers that she desperately tried to find after her own stroke. With honesty, sensitivity and compassion, she’s written about extremely personal experiences, while maintaining a sense of humour. Despite living with severe pain as a constant reminder of her stroke, Wendy still looks to the future with hope and a belief in her immortality. I admire her courage.
Yes, we have remembered Jesus’ words. As teenagers, we had a desire to do something special, perhaps even difficult; a challenge. As we quoted them in assembly, reading aloud the simple truth, God’s living words waited for the opportunity to move in a way that we never expected. In our later years, it is still possible to live them.
My Prayer is: Lord Jesus, please help me to hand over the many blessings that you’ve given me so you can use them again to bless others. May I not hold back when I know you will walk with me into places of need. Give me courage. ~ Amen.