serving in strength

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

That verse has been on my counter for the last couple of weeks, catching my eye, realigning my heart.

Some days I may wonder what “special gift” I have received, but other times it’s quite clear: these are days of service. Laying my life down and spending my moments and days in cleaning clothes, preparing meals, organizing home, giving instruction.

There is always more to do than I’m up for. I get tired sooner than the mountain is moved. I lose heart before the task is accomplished. Many, many times, I simply forget that I’m serving, and elevate my feelings of “I just don’t want to” to a place of consideration. Selfishness is incredibly strength-sapping.

But when my eye catches this line, the one that goes, “serve by the strength which God supplies,” my heart is renewed. There is a source of strength that is endless! Endless.

That doesn’t mean I don’t head to bed early these days — I do! — or pause long to sit with the nursing baby — I do! But it does mean my attitude doesn’t cut off the flow of strength that comes from the Holy Spirit in me. I can smile. And when I don’t, and the excuses start to flood my complaining heart, I can know that my feelings are out of line and there is a better, abundant, strength-giving truth available to me. Repent and get back into the flow of strength.

And when all else fails, I can at least be thankful that my serving is generally done with two feet firmly on the ground. This guy handles the roof problems.

november 8: I will be with you

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

When.

When.

Not if, just when.

Sometimes the rivers overwhelm me. I am surprised to find myself in life up to my eyeballs. Sometimes what should be a small trial — a difficult week with too much going on — threatens to overflow me. Other times a truly significant testing of faith is the fire I face.

But so the path of Jesus leads — there will be waters, there will be fires, and

“We can’t go under them, we can’t go over them; Oh, no! We’ve got to go through them!” (Name that book.)

But here is my very favorite truth of the gospel: God with us.

“I will be with you.”

This morning, as a new day dawns and we have yet to see what waters or fires may await us, I can already know that there is a way through. And it is with Jesus.

september 20

A little humor can go a long way, so I keep this certain image (recalled from a calendar growing up, perhaps?) tucked away. How many times has the late afternoon rolled over me and I can’t quite figure out exactly what we’re doing with this day, and forget the to-do list because somehow I can’t get above diaper changes — and this picture pops into my head, and I just laugh. How did Mary Engelbreit know I would look just like this so very often?

A little humor, a little serious: it never gets more than just “daily”. Sometimes we think it should. We wait for exciting Start Of Our Lives, which never comes. We wonder when that Calling From God is going to elevate our lives to awesome-status, and instead we just wake up every morning with bad breath and bedhead and an empty jar that is supposed to have coffee beans. There’s this one day where we’re just on the cusp, and everything is banging on all cylinders and we’re praying all day and managing the house like a whiz and kids are mastering math problems — but probably maybe definitely the next day you’ll wake up with a headache and have to take it down a notch or ten and remember that life really is just daily, and God likes to draw near to humble, broken people whose lives are no more spectacular than your ordinary Galilean fisherman’s, and this — your real life — is the stage for the glory of God to be shown. He loves to shine through broken earthen vessels. Don’t try to fancy-up the outside; just lean into Jesus and let His grace shine.

And He’s not picky. He’ll shine through on the most daily of days, the most mundane of moments, your weakest point. He’s not above miracles that look like a smile and kiss for the baby who won’t sleep, drawing bony boy shoulders close when frustration would push away, an unexpected wave of energy to greet your husband when you were near collapse. His miracles make daily life beautiful and glorious and redeemed.

Sunrises, babies that scoot, spontaneous happy play moments, neatly made bed + sunshine, pears that match, food that nourishes soul and body, finishing our first phonics book, learning about stars with Papa and his telescope.

“To be a fisherman, you have to be around fish,” said Pastor Ben yesterday.

One of those laughably obvious statements, but painfully true: possession of tackle and rods does not make one a fisherman, and it certainly isn’t enough to land a fish. Even sitting in a boat above those fish isn’t enough. Not even just diving down and swimming around them! No, a fisherman must be where the fish are, with his gear at the ready.

I’m thinking about that this morning.

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

That’s me He’s calling.

I definitely am around “men” all day. And night. Every day and night. But am I ready to see and seize every opportunity to hook their hearts? Speak truth in love, pour out kindness and mercy, point to Jesus as the answer for their every need? Or am I just kind of floating through the day, too caught up in my own goals to notice the “fish” all around?

“Follow Me.”

That’s my part. He’ll teach me and show me and change me and cause my life to be effective; my part is to whole-heartedly follow Him.

Lord, You have my heart.

*****

One little life I’m currently pouring into:

september 4

A few mornings ago, I was watching this amazing sunrise. I don’t even live anywhere spectacular, and still, it’s stunning every single day. Magnificent. An orb of fire in the sky. I mean, who thought of that?

And then I looked straight ahead and saw my little geranium, recently pruned of all flowers, growing in its little earthen pot.

All things, large and small, the Lord God made them all.

The vast expanse of history, with kingdoms being raised and cast down, people moving here and there, cultures shifting and changing the scape of all future — and me. Just me.

God has His eye on it all.

He has His eye on you.

Happy Sunday.

August 28

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy;
love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,
is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”

Just simple thoughts the last two mornings. “If I have not love…”

It is so easy to lose sight of the goal once you get into the thick of things. So easy to spend every last bit of energy and personal resources on serving people, only to find the love that inspired you to start has disappeared, or gotten lost in the shuffle.

I made my list yesterday and saw there a host of activities and ideas that all must be tethered to love.

Today I wake early and will dress freshly bathed children in neatly ironed clothing, and will go through the hassle of actually leaving the house all together just to be at church. Those elements of “busy” quickly obliterate the view of “why”: love for the brethren, love for our Savior.

Love.

Most of the world over knows love is powerful, love is needful, love can set free.

But then there’s a limit. We can only go so far before hurt or unloveliness or just sheer exhaustion smothers the last flicker of compassion or affection.

And that, oh my soul, is where Jesus comes in. A fount of love that ceaselessly flows, reaching me, changing me, empowering me to keep on loving.

“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

“The fruit of the Spirit is love.”

Need more love? Turn to Jesus.

*****

Called to love these: