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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Serve where you live

There are times when we just don't feel like we have anything to add to the situation - when we just feel we couldn't possibly make a difference with our contribution.  Unfortunately, this is contrary to what scripture says about each of us, for we all have a purpose to play in God's family, regardless of how "small" or "large" that purpose may appear.  I was recently reminded of this over the past week or so, when caring for mom through a major decline in her health.  She suffered a rapid onset of a respiratory infection (something which can easily claim the life of a 96 year old).  Within a matter of two days, it was into the early stages of pneumonia.  She could no longer bathe herself, had no desire to eat, and just about everything she needed had to be anticipated and provided.  It is awesome that I have a leader who knows how important family is and recognized my place was at home taking care of mom, not necessarily handling the issues I normally handle at work.  The team stepped up to cover for me and I could focus my attention on mom's needs.  At first, washing her, ensuring she had sufficient fluids, and getting some chicken soup into her may not seem like much to you, but our mission in her last years is to keep her out of the hospital.  We manage these issues at home if at all possible.  My purpose at that moment was to be all the things the nurse would be in the hospital AND to be continue to be all the things the daughter is at home!  At that moment, my "service" took on a double purpose.  There are times when even what we consider to be the "regular stuff" of life is really the purpose for which we are called!

Christ gave these gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. This work must continue until we are all joined together in what we believe and in what we know about the Son of God. Our goal is to become like a full-grown man—to look just like Christ and have all his perfection. Then we will no longer be like babies. We will not be people who are always changing like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to deceive us—those who make clever plans and use every kind of trick to fool others into following the wrong way. (Ephesians 4:12-14 ERV)

It is easy to see the preacher at the front of the congregation and say he or she has a calling.  It is also easy to recognize this in the evangelist, missionary, and the counselor on the local church staff.  It might not be as easy for us to recognize that we each have a calling/purpose in life which is as varied as there are people who roam this earth.  Some of us fall into our calling, while others just know they have a particular calling and pursue it with a passion.  There are times when our purpose will "morph" a little based on the circumstances we are faced with.  Either way, we all are given "gifts" which God plans for us to use. If we don't use them, we are actually leaving a "gap" in the family where we were designed to be the very one to fill it.

I know there are very specific "gifts" such as teaching, preaching, and the like which are designed to help each of us develop into solid followers of Christ. The other "gifts" are equally as important, because when everyone is doing their part, we grow together.  I need the encouragement of a sister in the Lord who reminds me to keep my focus upward.  She doesn't fill the role of "preacher" or even "teacher" in the local church, but at that very moment when she comes alongside to encourage or admonish me, she is fulfilling the unique purpose of helping me grow up in Christ.  Isn't this the mission of the church anyway - to help people meet, know, and grow in Christ?  When we each do our part, regardless of when or where it is, we are helping each other to do just that!

Full-grown - this is our mission.  Getting from infancy to full-grown status requires a lot of work along the way.  We find we need some coddling at times, strict rules at others, and then we eventually just need someone to encourage us to make our way in life.  The point of growth along each step is riddled with lots and lots of people doing their part in our growth - even when they may not recognize it!  I don't serve mom today because I suddenly decided to serve her. I serve mom today because of something I saw as a child - her serving her mom. It is a learned behavior!  I came to recognize the value of having the aging loved one in your home - enjoying those times of seasoned and wizened education which occur in the moments of reminiscing and sharing.  I also came to recognize the intense need the elderly have to be needed, useful, and contributing well into their advancing years.  Their roles change a little, but they still have a huge contribution to make.

We don't have to step very far outside of our "circle of influence" to find the place and ways God has called for us to serve and be the hands and feet of Christ to this world.  We don't have to go to seminary or get some "laying on of hands" in an ordination service.  What we do need is to recognize we play a part in helping each other grow just by living life together!  In the admonition of today, the growth of tomorrow will come.  In the service of today, the cementing of stability will become evident.  We each play our part - don't ever think of your active service (regardless of what it is) as insignificant.  You never know when you will be called to be the hands and feet of Christ!  Just sayin!