Tuesday, September 15, 2015

When Serving God is Good

My pastor hates when preachers tell stories that make God look small. You've heard them. "I was going to preach somewhere and we were broke. They didn't give me an offering to buy gas but they gave me a chicken. My wife cooked that chicken over a fire by the road and while we were eating someone stopped by and put a gallon of gas in the car." He always says, "Who wants to serve that God?" 

Serving God can get a bad rap. "Come serve God and you can be miserable too!" It's easy to see how it turns into that. After all, God does call us to die to self and take up our cross. He did send His own Son to Calvary. We've all heard someone deliver the "God called me to do all the things I hated in life and I did them and it was hard."

In real life I don't know anyone like that- at least no one I want to be like. That does not inspire or motivate me to serve God. And if I want to serve God I can only imagine how it sounds to people who are on the fence about giving their lives as well as their hearts to Jesus. 

I'm not at all suggesting that we water down God's Word to be appealing to me or anyone else. I'm not suggesting that we make the will of God seem like walks along the beach at sunset. I am suggesting that maybe we should look at our own lives and see what's been true for us. 

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8

We have to purposely look for the good in life. We are naturally bent to notice the negative. The heartbreaking moments of life are seared into us by force of emotion. We don't have to try to remember them. But we do have to challenge ourselves to see the good; otherwise we can walk right by without once thanking God for it. 

Writing is an excellent memory aid. I have an apparently faulty memory and it helps to look back over answered prayers and issues and events in life. So I started a list. I have my own family and a home to care for. I get to work in various ministries through our church. I'm using my writing skills not just here on the blog but also in other avenues. I've coached volleyball and counseled women. I could go on but I'm not really that interested in your knowing my list. 

I want you to make your own list. Sit down with a pencil and notebook (or the notes app on your iPhone) and think about the things that you do now or have done. Write down all the things that you do that you truly enjoy or have always wanted to do or hope to keep doing. Most of you can come up with something. 

But what if you aren't there yet? Maybe your list is small. Maybe you're a new Christian and you don't know where to start. You might not be sure how life can be good once God starts reshaping your heart. Here are a few ideas. 

1. Take opportunities. 
Don't worry about whether you are the most qualified. There will always be someone more qualified. But they might not be where you are. If you are available and willing you are the person. 

2. Develop skills even if you don't know how/when you will use them. 
You can't expect God to use you if you won't put in some work. If you are interested in something, learn more about it.  As you learn skills God will bring opportunities to use them in His timing. 

3. Learn to love what you do. 
Life will never consist of only doing your favorite things. If you can learn to love what is in front of you, you will enjoy life so much more. Don't we all want to radiate joy even in the midst of a less-than-perfect life? It might take some practice but you can get there. Start by asking God to change your heart. 

Every person has hard things in life. In no way am I trying to remove that truth. But as I walk in hard things I don't have to do it alone. The presence of God is a gift that softens the sharp edges of difficulties. 

I should serve Him just because of what He's done for me- whether or not it's hard, whether or not I like it. 

Instead He gives me opportunities to serve in ways that I love. That makes me love Him more. 

Maybe you're not at a place in life where you can say that. That's ok. You can say that living for God is hard- because it is. But hear this- God made you; He knows you; He loves you. And He has a plan for your life that surpasses where you are at this moment. Don't quit. 

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