In May 2001, Dr. Leila Alice Denmark, a pediatrician, decided it was time to retire.
She had thought about retiring eleven years earlier when her husband died. But Dr. Denmark decided against it. Keeping busy would be the best therapy for her grief. Actually, Leila wouldn’t have called it quits in 2001, had it not been for her failing eyesight. She could no longer peer down the throats and into the ears of children during examinations.
So she retired—at the age of 103. She had served her community for 76 years—most of them in a clinic she ran from her Atlanta home. By the time of her retirement, Dr. Denmark was treating the great-grandchildren of her earliest patients.
After working several years at two hospitals, Dr. Leila Denmark began a private practice in her home. And she remained at her post, caring for some of Georgia’s poorest children, for the next 73 years. Along the way she also helped develop Pertussis, the vaccine for whooping cough. She also wrote numerous books and volunteered thousands of hours in a church clinic.
But one thing Dr. Denmark never did was this. She never treated any job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better-paying. Earlier on she found her niche. She discovered her true calling and found the place where she could do the most good for those who needed her services. And she remained there.
Other Faithful People
I can think of many others like Leila. Here are a few. For the last 71 years Allan Ganz, “the Ice Cream man,” has been driving his ice cream truck up and down the streets of Peabody, Massachusetts. Ron Akana served as a flight attendant on United Airlines over a span of 63 years. Ted Ingram of Dorset, England delivered the same newspaper, the Dorset Echo, for 72 years—on his bicycle. John Wesley Brown practiced law for three decades until President Kennedy nominated him for the federal court in 1962. There he remained until the day of his death—at the age of 104.
These are people who rejected the idea that one is not successful unless they’re continually progressing to bigger and better things. They are people who found a gap and filled it. And they remained at their post throughout life. They did this, not because they were under-achievers or slothful. They continued in their present job because it’s where they were needed most and because they loved what they were doing. And in the end they achieved greatness because of their longevity and faithfulness.
A Christian Expectation
And this is ultimately what the Lord expects from us. In Romans 12:1–8, Paul the apostle admonishes us to dedicate ourselves to God and to accomplish His perfect will for our lives. We do this by honestly assessing our true gifts and talents and using them to faithfully serve God and others.
It’s not about position and power. It’s about doing what we’re best at, what accomplishes the most good, what we’re happiest doing, and sticking with it till the end. Do this and promotion to greater things will come by the Lord’s choosing. “His Master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matt. 25:21).
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, by the power of grace divine. Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, and my will be lost in Thine. Amen.
Information from: https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/1998/07/27/focus2.html
Uncle John’s Old Faithful Bathroom Reader, Portable Press, San Diego, 2017, pp. 11-12
In article photo: Ray Chavez, 104, the oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor, rings the Freedom Bell by the U.S. Navy licensed under CC BY 2.0