Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Service vs. Pouring Out Our Lives

Becky and I are working our way through "My Utmost for His Highest" this year. It's the devotional our church is going through together and after struggling to read the Old English version, we now have a new version that we can actually understand. I'm not a huge fan of devotionals at all, but last night I finally got a glimpse of why we have them. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this all day...

Here's the last part of the devotional from last night:
Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?

Nothing like being convicted before going to sleep. This question haunts me now. I'm usually ok with the occasional "give my weekend away" kind of service. I have no problem doing ministry on my own schedule... which means as long as I've had at least 2 nights at home with nothing to do that week, then you can count me in. If I haven't rested, sorry God, you'll have to catch me on a better week. You wouldn't want someone tired serving you or pouring out their lives because of what you've taught them, would you? That's the process my mind goes through.

So what we've been asking ourselves lately is, "What does it look like to give our lives away?" We've been trying to be as specific as possible. Here are a couple of areas we've found...

Babysitting - We babysit for the Skaggs', Kohler's and Trickett's. I can't tell you how much we genuinely LOVE their kids. We actually started volunteering to babysit probably 2 years ago with the hidden goal of getting to know the couples and learn how they live out their marriage and pick up some parenting tips along the way. What we've gotten in return is deep friendship, parenting skills with very different children and an appreciation for couple's who have made up their mind to love one another passionately who don't mind being transparent. Jesus has blessed us through babysitting, so much so we absolutely don't care if we ever get paid. We want to be a blessing in return to these families who have so greatly impacted us and with the stage in life we're at, it's one of the only tangible ways we know how.

Say Yes - First, I am a firm believer in the word "no". I really enjoy using it and having nights where we do nothing at the house. But what we're learning to do is say yes in areas where we would normally say no due to the fact that we were uncomfortable. Example... I would be fine not going to any guy's nights for our Sunday School class. And please know, this is a class that I LOVE dearly. I'm the type of person that likes to know EVERYTHING about you before I really feel comfortable. In a big group setting, this is an impossible conversation to have with every person. Thus enter social awkwardness. I don't really like small talk, don't see much purpose in it, so I can easily be found in a corner minding my own business. And what's sad is I'm perfectly ok with this. I don't feel left out or ignored at all. What I'm pushing through though is introducing myself and seeing where the conversation ends up. So far it's ended up in good friendships with couples via our small group and an accountability group of 4 other guys that I appreciate more every time we're together. We'll see what else is in store.

Another example is something that happened this past weekend. David Trickett called me up and said, "Hey, what's your license number?" I gave it to him and asked why. Then he said, "Oh, we're going to the prison and I really think you should go with us." Knowing I can't say no if I'm uncomfortable, I let out a nervous "Ok" and hung up the phone. Well I went this past weekend. I got more hugs in 1 minute from the prisoners than I've ever received in my 3 years at ExxonMobil. They were so loving, so appreciative and so willing to share their stories about how Jesus had really given them a new opportunity at life by bringing them to this place in order for them to get straightened out. I connected with one prisoner in particular (John) and hung out with him most of the day. I observed all the others, not quite knowing how to start a conversation. I'm sure it will get better as time goes on, but I can honestly say I didn't really go so I could serve in any way. My curiosity was piqued when I started asking the question, "I wonder what Jesus looks like inside a prison?" You should go so you can see the answer for yourself. I'll help you get plugged in with Trickett if you have a willingness to go...

I have a desire to pour out my life completely for Christ. I'm terrified by that desire and quite confused by that desire, but the desire is there. So now, because of this devotion and what Jesus is stirring inside of me, I'll no longer be able to say yes to service without wondering if the actual event is what I'm making ultimate in order to feel good enough about myself to get through another day. What's our motivation behind serving?

What I'm learning through experience is it's to pour out our lives, in which Jesus has changed forever, completely for Him. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like.


Jen said...

Were you there on the first Sunday of the year? When that guest speaker was there? I thought of him when I read this devo yesterday. All God needs is a willing witness, and that is someone who's next heartbeat is one of obedience. That the chances of crazy things happening for God when you're a willing witness, though the probability may seem low, are actually 100% with the Lord. Good stuff.

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