As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 4:10 & 11
The idea of serving as I have been called to do by God is something that has always given me a little bit of anxiety. It seems so big and feels like it carries an unspoken pressure to perform specific tasks, all while remaining somewhat vague. What am I supposed to do in the in’s and out’s of my day? How do I serve in the big picture of my life? How have I been gifted?
Throw in my sinful nature - I want recognition for the things I do! I don’t want to look foolish! I don’t want to over commit! I want to feel good about what I do! - and it’s just down right confusing.
Thankfully, for the past year God has been answering my desperate cries for direction. When the tension of the unknown starts to feel overwhelming, I meditate on these four little things. I call them Ebenezer Truths, they’re just little nuggets of truth that I can hold up to remind me of God’s presence and faithfulness to fulfill His promises in my life.
These are not new things, but I know this is a common struggle, so my prayer is that these things can be a good reminder for you and something to hold on to when uncertainty and doubt start creeping in!
Serve In the mystery:
It is the glory of God to conceal things - Proverbs 25:2a
This one is hard just because of its vagueness, but as a believer it promotes the action part of faith. A couple of years ago, one of my favorite authors, Emily Freeman, wrote an introspective post on her blog in which she points out that she has learned often times in her life that by asking for clarity in any given situation it is basically the opposite of what it would look like to have faith in God through that same situation.
So many times I get caught in the trap of thinking that before I begin, I have to know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and exactly how it’s supposed to look. Believing that I have to know how my service will look has kept me on the bench so many times. Instead of having faith that God will strengthen me to do the work that He has called me to, I start focusing on myself and the commitment it will require, and the energy it will take. I wear myself out thinking about what it will look like 5 years down the road instead of just working through today’s responsibilities!
Maybe this is why Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” - Matthew 6:34
Serve Despite the Circumstances:
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:12 & 13
On the surface, this one is probably the most frustrating and offensive. It rains on my parade when I feel like I have been wronged by God and all I want to do is throw myself a pity party and sit in the corner and lick my wounds.
However, over time I have learned the absolute beauty of knowing that especially when my circumstances are dire and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, I can have every confidence in my Lord and Savior that He is working for me and giving me strength when I think I cannot go on anymore.
Whatever your circumstances are today is what God has for you today, BUT tomorrow is a new day. You do not have to stay where you are. If your circumstance are within your control change it! If you need permission, this is your permission! I think a lot of the time, God is just waiting on us to get off the couch and do something.
Start By Doing the Dishes:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:17
This one is stupidly simple, but provides the most immediate reward, while also benefiting those you live with.
I cannot tell you how many nights I have gone to bed and left the dishes unwashed, the laundry not put away, and the house just in general disarray - all because that’s just not the work I want to be doing. I would rather be chasing my dreams, doing something fun, or at the very least living vicariously through my Instagram feed!
I wake up in the morning, drop my daughter off at one of the grandparents houses, work my 9-5, pick my daughter up, come home, start the bedtime routine, then have dinner with my husband. By that time all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV or crawl into bed. Which is exactly what I should do some nights.
But when I neglect the very basic responsibilities that I have, I begin to get lazy and operate out of place of crisis instead of a place of plenty. I start believing that those people on my Instagram feed don’t have to do these chores, so why should I?? Newsflash – we all have to do the dishes at some point!
Step Out In Faith
But the glory of kings is to search things out. - Proverbs 25:2b
Finally, just do it! Chances are you already have the basic framework for the work you’re supposed to be doing. If you are a believer, you have been gifted by God and He has promised to strengthen you for the work. And in case you think God messed up, Paul says in Romans 11:29 that, “the gifts and the calling of God is irrevocable.”
All that’s left for you and I to do is to just put our heads down and do the work. Serve the people around you in the way that you have been called to serve them. It may take several times to figure out exactly what that looks like, but you only need to be concerned with today, not tomorrow or the next day. If you truly don’t know where to start, begin with smiling at the next person you see, and then ask the next person how their day is going! You will likely start out awkwardly, like a baby learning to walk, but that’s normal! We all start somewhere, and you’ll never get good if you don’t start!
Today you just have to do the next right thing and sometimes that thing is sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream, but other times it’s burning the midnight oil working out your gifts and calling with Jesus and coffee.
Whatever your service looks like, the point of it is that God get’s the glory. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the success of a thing and to start believing that we have made it work and that we deserve all the accolades. If it ever comes to that then there is no point for any of it. Similarly, if the thing fails, we tend to wrap ourselves in shame and embarrassment, thinking that the success depended on us and that’s just not true. God does not have lofty and unattainable expectations of us. Whatever He gives us, He will sustain. For some, that looks like big things and for some it’s small things. Regardless of the size, He is the same faithful Father through and through.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10