But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. Exodus 21:5-6 NIV
I don’t know about you, but my husband and I ended up miles and miles AND MILES–I think you get the point 🙂 –from where we thought we would be at this stage in life. It is kind of comical when you think about it. We had it so wrong. But one thing that is for sure is that we have purposed to love and serve God with our whole hearts.
I have written before about an early experience we had when we were newlyweds , (See Brokenness ) and it is worth mentioning again here.
When my husband and I married, we also started our lives together in the ministry, pastoring Youth. We were passionate about our call to serve God. There was one particular song, which we sang ardently throughout those early years and it epitomized our hearts cry. We would sing this first verse:
WILL YOU BE POURED OUT LIKE WINE UPON THE ALTAR FOR ME?
WILL YOU BE BROKEN LIKE BREAD TO FEED THE HUNGRY?
WILL YOU BE SO ONE WITH ME, THAT YOU WOULD DO JUST AS I WILL?
WILL YOU BE LIGHT AND LIFE AND LOVE, MY WORD FULFILLED?
(And then we would cry out our response to this call to sacrifice!)
YES, I’LL BE POURED OUT LIKE WINE UPON THE ALTAR FOR YOU!
YES, I’LL BE BROKEN LIKE BREAD TO FEED THE HUNGRY!
YES, I’LL BE SO ONE WITH YOU, THAT I WOULD DO JUST AS YOU WILL!
YES, I’LL BE LIGHT AND LIFE AND LOVE, YOUR WORD FULFILLED!
It was a beautiful thing– UNTIL we were poured out like wine and broken like bread! 🙂 We somehow forgot that the grapes had to be crushed before there was wine to pour out on the altar and the dough had to be kneaded and baked before the bread was broken and dispensed to the hungry. But, nevertheless through the years, this has been our hearts cry even when God has allowed things into our lives that have crushed us, kneaded and baked us! Just to clarify, I’m definitely not saying there was never doubting or questioning when adversities came our way. But what has kept us close to God through children with disabilities, illness, caring for aging parents, hardships and disappointments is that we are Earmarked!
What do I mean by Earmarked? You may have wondered about the odd scripture that is the featured verse for this post.
But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. Exodus 21:5-6
Back in Bible times, when people were unable to pay their debts, by law they had to give their services to their creditors for a limited number of years. In the context of the featured verse it was for six years and release was upon the seventh year. Sometimes a person who was extremely poor would sell his services for the six years to a rich person, who then was to house him, clothe him, and feed him. Either way, at the end of six years a servant was to go free. But for those servants who chose to remain indefinitely in service out of love for their master there was the ceremony with the awl.
So, in a spiritual sense, we have allowed our Master to take up an awl and bring us to the door post. My husband and I have FOREVER chosen to be His servants and in so doing are indefinitely Earmarked. We see Paul, Peter, James and Jude also made references to themselves as “bond servants”. (Romans 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; James 1:1; Jude 1:1)
The Term Bondservant here comes from the word dulos. And is defined as:
- a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
a. a slave
b. metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
c. devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests
2. a servant, attendant
The thing that has proved hardest for me is not the “serving” part, but the giving one’s self up to another’s will. For me there was never a doubt that we would spend our lives in service to God. But my original idea of what that looked like was that we would eventually serve God on the Mission Field in some Third-World country. In fact, my husband’s heart for Missions is what originally attracted me to him at College. When our disabled children came along , their monumental needs for healthcare and services, sent us in a different direction to Pastoral Ministry here in the U.S. We were privileged to serve 25 years in that capacity until a few years ago, when the care of my sick mother along with increasing demands of our disabled children necessitated we step down as Lead Pastor from our congregation. And that brought us to where we are now.
My husband started to do construction work, something he enjoyed and was quite good at to help make ends meet. From that, God has blessed us as he enabled us to establish our construction company called, Earmark Construction. (Yes, that is where the “Earmark” is from.) Even though this was originally not my idea of “service”, I have come to understand that obedience is what determines whether we are servants. I have also now seen the many elderly people, my husband has assisted in remodeling and adapting their homes for their physical changes that aging has brought on. People that he would not have come in contact with in a pulpit.
Recently, God has been directing me in a very unusual direction. I’m not exactly sure where it is going but I’m obediently taking each step as the Lord directs. Some years ago I began aspiring to be a Bounty Hunter, (See Bounty Hunters) looking for God’s bounty all around me, rather than looking at the negative. It has been life transforming. I even have since changed my life verse! 🙂 From Proverbs 11:22
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
to Psalm 65:11 NLT
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Through picking up a camera, I began expressing gratefulness with every capture of the beauty around me. It is everywhere if we just look for it. So with the motivation to be grateful and to inspire gratefulness in others, I have started Earmark Expressions and posted my work on Instagram to share. You can see my art there at lisa_earmarkexpressions.
I have asked myself the question, “Photography art and remodeling houses, of what importance are they?” But then I remember the quote from Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) as he is talking to his sister, who disproves of his running, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” So for now, caring for our children–my mother has since passed away, Earmark Construction and Earmark Expressions, this is our service. This is how we bring pleasure to our Master.
Dear Lord, There are young and old alike searching for what exactly their “service” should look like at this time in their life. Guide and lead each one to the place where you are calling them. You know the people that still need to come to the saving knowledge of your Son, Jesus Christ. You know how best to make that happen and you put us in strategic places. As we walk in obedience, you can miraculously take anything we offer up in service and bring fruit out of it. Whatever we do, may we do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17) Soli Deo Gloria! LH
(For a great link that explains Slavery in the Bible click Here.)
Latest posts by Lisa Hempel (see all)
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4 thoughts on “Earmarked”
Lisa: Beautiful as always!! I can truly understand this message. I often wonder about my life—- so different than my plans, but I should have NOT TRIED to be the planner. God was always in charge—- I was slow to get the message!! Walking His path now!
Karen, I can’t think of a better example than you of someone who has walked through adversity and yet has such an amazing heart to serve others. You have touched countless people with the love of Christ! It is a privilege to call you friend and follow your example.
Lisa. Iv been searching through all the hard things and always loved God and served others. Iv been blessed and struggled with many things. My heart hurt becouse i counld not see the good anymore. I realized it was heartbreaking to me and my heavenly father that i became blind to His goodness. He has used you in this ministry to bring hope and open the eyes of my heart and to ease the pain. The greatest pain iv even know wasnt the things i had endured but the loss and pain of feeling alone in my suffering. My heart and soul cryed out ABBA FATHER. Many thanks for bringing the answer to end the sorrow that lead me to the way of my fathers heart…
I’m sooooo glad you found us at Better Off Read Ministries and that God used this ministry to let you know you are loved and you are not alone. I pray that God will give you Peace and Joy in your journey. Personally, I have to admit, I have arrived many times during my journey at the fork in the road between Joy and Despair. I have to always remind myself that undisguised it is simply the choice between Thankfulness and Thanklessness. (See the post, Commencement Of Miracles) Oh, may we all grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:14-21) Blessings to you my new friend!