Serving - Easier Said Than Done
Easier said than done. I would say that this statement has been a bit more personal of late.
Until recently, I would have categorized myself as the quintessential go-to person. If a friend needed help, someone needed a ride, a late night trip for donuts came up, or if almost anything needed to be done… I was your girl. My go-to person personality also applied to outreach, and serving in multiple areas. Submersing myself in the world of poverty, and the opportunity to serve and love others consumed my life, and became my default response. Currently, because of the busyness of life, I realize that I’m almost the opposite person now. I’ve become a let-me-check-my-schedule and I’ll-get-back-to-you kind of person — a it’s just been a really hard and tiring week kind of person.
An article in Christianity Today states that “the majority of churches say that finding enough funding and volunteers are the two biggest obstacles to doing outreach” (Moore). In a way this is both comforting and sad. Comforting, because I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this, but sad because without people, the act of service simply does not exist.
Upon further reflection I realized that it isn’t my passion behind service that has changed, but rather the reality of my life’s circumstances. My heart still aches for those who are isolated, hurting, and hungry. Of course the eighteen-year-old Ceilidh, in a full-time bible college program, learning about the importance and urgency of serving, was passionately marching and standing up for justice and equality whenever she had the chance. But now, as a twenty-three year old, full time grade two teacher, trying to keep up with my own issues and responsibilities, it’s more complicated, and subsequently, less “manageable”.
How do I go on with the practicalities of my day-to-day life, and still never feel like I’m doing enough?
In one of my favourite books, Cold Tangerines; Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life, Shauna Niequists compares prayer to yoga. I’m going to borrow her comparison and use it to describe my relationship with outreach. Niequist explains how prayer (or outreach, in my case), like yoga, is something she knows is good for herself, something she wants everyone to think she is doing all the time because it looks good, when really, she just wears yoga pants everywhere. Niequist writes
“If you ask me about [outreach], I have the books, the journals, a few transcendent experiences to report from the last decade, lots of good reasons why every person should do it, and not a ton of extremely current experiences rushing to mind. I believe my life would be better if I did it a lot, like yoga, but when it come right down to it, I’m outreach-ish.”
While reading this it became abundantly clear how easy it is to become “ish” about things… half in, half out.
The definition of service is “the action, or act of helping or doing work for someone”. It doesn’t sound very glamorous, or fun. It sounds like something that is going to require me to put the needs of others before my own. It sounds like something Jesus would do; it sounds like it involves sacrifice. The purpose of service isn’t an act to be done at our convenience, or dependent on whether or not we can maybe shuffle our schedules around to fit it in. Ultimately, a call to service is a blessing that we should allow ourselves to fully indulge in, rather than more often than not, have an excuse of “busyness” or “too tiredness” to avoid.
Galatians 5:13 says: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Service is an expression of the freedom we have been given in Christ, an act of gratitude, and a reflection of the grace and love we receive in Him.
So, very vulnerably, I commit to stop prioritizing convenience, and pray to embrace the opportunities for service, even when it’s hard.
I came across this Franciscan blessing/benediction many years ago, and the words just spoke to my heart as an encouragement and reminder of what I want and should be praying for my own life. I pray it for you today:
May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,
so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done,
On Sunday, February 24 @ 10:30am we are taking a bit of a different approach to our Sunday gathering. We will be meeting at H.D. Stafford Middle School for a SERVE SUNDAY! We are going to have projects to take care of all throughout the school and in the community as we break up into different teams to love on our city! This is our privilege to share the love of Jesus in our community through our actions. Make plans to join us!