He holds babies.
This man, who teaches math to boys. This man who has a reputation for being strict and stern with his students, because in his own words, he has to be. What, with 30 male teenagers, someone has to have the upper hand right?
This man who’s never been married, never had children, who is a Vietnam veteran, and has a reputation for being one of the hardest teachers in his school. He holds babies. His students never knew this side of him until they went to the hospital on a field trip and realized he had a name for himself there as well. Only not as being a stern, strict stiff of a man, but a soft, sweet, cuddler of babies.
Babies who are sick, babies who are abandoned, and babies who just need to be calmed. He’s done this for twenty years.
Baby whisperer they call him.
And what does he say about his ability to calm then? He doesn’t take any credit, says he’s got nothing special, they just want someone to hold them. And I say, do any of us ever grow out of the need for someone to hold us?
I read about him the other day and it touched my heart in so many ways. See, we often get caught up in the question of what are we supposed to be doing with our lives. What do I have to offer? What does God want me to do with my life? How can I use my talents? How can I serve? And we get so caught up in dwelling on that question we don’t do anything.
Sometimes the question becomes an excuse. “Well, I really don’t know what God wants me to do. I’ve prayed, I’m not sure. I feel like I should be doing this..but not sure if it’s God’s will, etc, etc.” And so we sit and our questions, our doubts, become an excuse to not do anything.
And we wait to obtain something in order to be able to accomplish whatever it is that God’s got in store for us, when what we should be doing is using what we already have.
Jesus called us to be servants, as He was a servant.
Luke 22:27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. (emphasis mine)
Jim O’Conner, the teacher, he serves these babies. To some it might not seem like a lot. But for twenty years this man has gone to the hospital a few times a week and has served these children just by being there to hold them.
He also holds the status as being the top donator of blood in the last twenty years to the hospital. Over 72 gallons they say. How many lives have been helped by the blood drawn from his veins? With over 72 gallons, I’m sure many.
It’s not cost him anything but his time (and loads of blood). He’s used what he had and that’s his body.
Photo Source:Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
He uses his mind to teach his students, his blood to help save lives, and his arms to cradle babies.
And all you have to do to serve is use what you have.
And whether you’re washing dishes, or washing clothes, or waiting tables, or administering shots; whether you’re taking care of your children at home, or giving advice to a friend in need, or preaching to a man in prison or giving 72 gallons of blood over a lifetime…you’re serving. And the apostle Paul said:
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
And if we don’t have a heart to serve others, do we really have a heart for Jesus?
The lesson in Mr. O’Connor’s story, is that we don’t have to be rich to serve others, we don’t have to be in a foreign country to serve others, and so on… we use what we have available to us..it’s all about perspective.
It’s about doing and doing everything in the name of the Lord, and humbling ourselves to see the need around us..taking grace and extending it to others.
We don’t have to question how to serve, we just have to be willing.