Saturday, November 12, 2011

Preconceived ideas?

The kids are scattered away overnight with friends for the fun of it...meat is simmering to tenderness on the stove top as my list of things to do stares at me from the whiteboard.  Somehow we managed to plan an insanely busy day once the time-scheduled events begin, but for now I am enjoying a quiet moment of reflection.  This is what I'm thinking about...

There is a scenario that plays itself out around here...I suspect you can relate.  Say you're working on something really exciting, like laundry.  The basket is filled with warmness and you're just beginning to switch yet another load of the wash over to the dryer when one of your children cheerfully comes up and asked if help is wanted.  Help?  Sure.  A conversation like this may be involved:

Child: “Can I help you?”
Parent: "Yes, would you please run this hamper down to my bed, dump it out and bring the hamper back to me?
Child (with pouty face): “But I wanted to empty the washer.”
Parent (not snarkily, but kindly - in an attempt to help the child understand what their less than cheerful whine of a response is really communicating): "Do you want to help or do you just want to do what you want to do and call it helping?"
Child: "Sorry Mommy, I'll run the hamper down."

Personalizing this a bit, I asked myself the question: As I run to my Father to offer myself in service, how quick am I to cheerfully do what He asks of me?  Do I go to Him in prayer with my preconceived ideas of how I want to serve?  Do I pout or make excuses when the opportunity He's giving me isn't what I wanted? 

One time springs to my memory.  In my newlywed days I had some time on my hands.  Mike and I were praying about various ways I could use that time to minister to others.  Very clearly, almost as if the idea was being pressed physically upon my chest, the thought of developing relationships with some elderly women at a nearby nursing home and reading the Scriptures to them kept overtaking the thoughts of other things that felt much more appealing to me.  I came up with all kinds of sister had worked at that nursing home when I was a young girl and I would sometimes run her lunch over to stunk in there...just sayin'.  I felt awkward around older people.  "I'm not the one for this job," I told God day after day. I wanted to start a Bible study with some high school girls or you can fill in the blank with just about anything except what I felt like God was asking me to do.  I'm pretty sure I heard my Father ask me: "Do you want to help, or do you just want to do what you want to do and call it helping?"  Now this is a little tricky because there is no "thus sayeth the Lord" verse in the Bible telling you "do this, not that" in situations like this, but I kid you Mike and I prayed, we both "knew."  After weeks, I finally walked over to the nursing home to introduce myself and that began a most incredible journey...the truth of the matter is that God knew I needed these older ladies in my life as much if not more than they needed me.  But that's a story for another time. 

I think of the laundry example above and so often the things I ask of my children frankly fall into the utilitarian category...the job just needs to get done and they are able bodies.  Of course I care about THEM, and the jobs are also about training them up to love and serve God, but with God,  He's so clearly and perfectly transforming us, making us more and more Christ-like.  That is the front burner issue.  He's building His kingdom and preparing His bride.  All the opportunities He puts before us to serve are opportunities for us to trust Him and to display His glory and grace working in and through us. Let's trust that He sees the big that He loves us with that as He asks us to bend low it is because that is His way of lifting us up. 

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." - Matthew 16:25

Do you want to help?

What is God asking you to do today?  Are you pouting or jumping into His plan?

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