I've had two opportunities to serve the Lord this week. Well, more than that, truth be told, but two that stand out in my mind.
Last Tuesday I had the privilege of speaking to "The Women of St. James." This is the women's ministry of a local church which is, presumably, like a hundred thousand others across the country. There were maybe thirty or so women in attendance but it really didn't matter to me if there were three or three thousand. On the one hand, truth be told, I'm always hoping for a crowd. But on the other, truth be told, I am just thankful for the opportunity. And really (and I believe this) it's not about the number who show up, but the number who God draws and whose hearts He touches through the words He puts in my mouth.
They had this big poster just inside the door with my picture on it announcing the event and the title of my message, which I had forgotten, so spoke about something completely different...
The poster was quite a lovely shock! They gave it to me to take home, which seemed a bit hilarious. I mean, who has a poster of themselves in their house? I told Jay I was going to hang it over our bed! He told me he was going to draw a mustache on it....
The trash men are picking it up tomorrow morning along with the eggs shells and banana peels and the rest of the garbage.
But man, it was so much fun to feel important! I always feel most "in my element" when I am standing in front of a group of women with a microphone in my hand and sharing with a passion that can only come from the heart of God.
I prayed numerous times over the event and for the women who would come. And I preached my little heart out! The good news is that God showed up and the women responded. There was tremendous positive feedback which I hope will translate into an altered and elevated view of God and suffering and take them to deeper reliance on Him.
Then today I had another opportunity to serve. I worked in the infant nursery in our church, as I do when there is a fifth Sunday in the month.
I'll just go ahead and tell you the truth: It's not my favorite thing. Unlike Jesus, I have never been one to call all the children unto me.
I am not involved with most of them or with their parents as Jay and I have, by the miracle of just staying alive, navigated our way out of that particular time in our lives. So I don't know the parents of these kids beyond going to the same church and am not invested in their lives outside of church.
Even more to the point, I don't like slimy green boogers, stinky poopy diapers, crying kids who can't explain why they are crying, reading alphabet books or the annoying noise of the latest Fisher Price toy.
But I started realizing that all that stuff delights God. And I was thinking that His word is true and that, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first," and "Whoever wants to be the greatest in the Kingdom must be the servant of all," and "As you have done to the least you have done to Me."
And I wondered if God wasn't more delighted with my nursery duty than He was with my "speaking engagement." I can certainly tell you which one I enjoyed more, and I can promise you it didn't have anything to do with changing stinky diapers!
Both are necessary, of course. And thankfully, He has me doing both. There is nothing wrong with, "Giving a word in season," and I love the opportunity to do so. But more often it is being kind to strangers, or the downtrodden, or the marginalized that God expects and honors and that will no doubt be the weighty jewels in our crowns of glory which we will lay at His feet one day.
That said, I hope we will all take advantage of every opportunity the Lord gives us to serve in whatever capacity it might be. And that we (read:I) can do so with an eye toward Kingdom values rather than earthly ones.
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